Injured David Silva is a little more peripheral as his Man City team-mates travel to Madrid

As he drifts wider, De Bruyne moves more centrally

BY Raf Diallo 15:49 Wednesday 4 May 2016, 15:49 4 May 2016

Manchester City's David Silva leaves the game during the Champions League semifinal soccer match between Manchester City and Real Madrid, at the City of Manchester stadium in Manchester, England, Tuesday, April 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

During Manchester City's recent era of Abu-Dhabi fuelled success, the trophies have been built on the back of a formidable spin. 

Behind captain and centre-back Vincent Kompany, has been Joe Hart in goal. Yaya Toure may be running out of steam these days, but for a long time he was the steam train in the engine room.

Sergio Aguero supplies the goals en masse and linking everything together as a roaming playmaker has been David Silva.

He still has a long future at the club but as Man City prepare for a vital Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid, the Spain international does not appear as fundamental to the team.

That's not to say that he is no longer one of City's five most important players, because he still is and will likely remain a key man when Pep Guardiola takes over in the summer.

But Kevin De Bruyne's arrival means the 30-year-old no longer has to be the leading creative focal point.

Manchester City players pose for a photograph before the UEFA Champions League, Semi-Final match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture by: Martin Rickett / PA Archive/Press Association Images

In a season in which De Bruyne has proved to be €69 million well spent, Silva has endured sporadic injury problems which have restricted him to just 24 appearances this season.

He has still racked up 12 assists in the Premier League and Champions League, which is more than his Belgian counterpart, but his goal threat is less pronounced.

De Bruyne has scored crucial goals, including the brilliant curling finish against Paris Saint-Germain which sealed Man City's Champions League semi-final spot against Real.

After a number of years as a roving playmaker off the wing for City in a 4-4-2 with Samir Nasri on the other flnak, this season saw Manuel Pellegrini place Silva centrally in a 4-2-3-1, which was a role which appeared to make him more fundamental as a subtle influencer.

The more athletic De Bruyne often started from the right side in an opposite role to Raheem Sterling, although the nature of City's style means starting position is not a fixed thing with fluidity and an interchange of movement part of the overall plan.

But in terms of official starting position in recent weeks, Silva has moved out wide to the left in Sterling's recent injury absence, with De Bruyne becoming ever more central and Jesus Navas' regularly playing 90 minutes as the right-winger.

With Sterling back, that could change again for the remainder of the season as Pellegrini can mix and match Silva, Sterling, Navas (solely as a right winger) and De Bruyne as the trio behind the striker. 

However, that won't be a dilemma for the Real match as Silva is ruled out with a hamstring injury which forced him off the field in the first leg, which puts a lot more emphasis on the shoulders of De Bruyne to provide the playmaking influence at the Santiago Bernabeu.


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