Guardiola’s new formation: City crushes outsiders and ignores De Bruyne’s loss


In the first six rounds of the season, Manchester City scored 11 points: they lost loudly at home to Leicester, did not beat West Ham and Leeds. The goal difference is 9-8. This despite the fact that the rivals were not the most difficult. And here are the results of the last six rounds: 18 points, the goal difference is 15-0. Yes, the opponents are weak. But just in case, let me remind you that last season City lost to Norwich and Southampton and lost points with Newcastle and Crystal Palace – teams from the bottom of the standings. This is minus 10 points of points from the planned.

At the beginning of the season, it seemed that the problem remained, but in the course of the season it was solved. A month ago, at the Championship, a text was published about how the team is changing. It was about a bunch Rubena Dias and John Stones, alternation of schemes and roles of players, about false nines, and the text ended with the words: “This is not a finished product yet, the process continues. But the scale is impressive. “

Guardiola rebuilds Man City. Compared to last season, this is a different team

Not the fact that it is stronger. But there are many differences.

So, now you are reading the sequel. Guardiola continued to change teams from match to match and found a scheme that works flawlessly with outsiders. The scheme is quite complex and flexible, but here’s the main thing.

The starting point is 4-3-3 with a clear defensive player, but in the course of the match, for the sake of better ball advancement, the scheme transforms depending on the number of forwards the opponent has. For example, Crystal Palace left only Andre Ayew, and City got by with a couple of central defenders. But Sheffield is playing with two forwards – Pep reacted. The scheme has not changed, but on the right flank came Kyle Walker and in the build-up made a top three with Ruben Dias and Emeric Laporte

The most powerful pair of defenders in the Premier League. Just monsters!

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With such a defense, you can and should fight for the title. And maybe not even one.

An even more interesting plan was proposed by Guardiola in the match against Burnley (also playing with two forwards). The four nominal defenders were João Canselo, Dias, Laporte and Stones. The three center and Kanselu wagon put together an intricate pattern of the start of the attack. Stones, Dias and Laporte played in the top three and were widely spaced in the first phase, while Canselu moved to midfield, and not to the flank, but to the center. The scheme turned into 3-4-3 with a diamond in midfield: Rodri at the base, Gundogan and Kansel of eights, and Bernardo Silva played everywhere. If, suddenly, Burnley managed to crawl out into a counterattack (this rarely happened), Canselo returned to the right edge of the defense, and Laporte covered the left.

It sounds complicated, but this is just the basics. Within the framework of this structure, the ball promotion was played with constantly changing positions, the team pressed. For example, Silva and Gundogan were constantly changing places: Silva dribbled the ball, and Gundogan filled the penalty area and helped Jesus, or played across the full width of the attack. Compare their touch cards.

Gundogan touch map

Gundogan touch map

Silva's touch map

Silva’s touch map

In addition to these position changes, there was one more: Sterling regularly left the flank to the center, and in his place was displaced Jesus.

It’s easy to get confused in all this. Hybrid scheme and hybrid roles for most players. Perhaps all these permutations did not affect only Riyad Mareza and Rodri. Probably not surprising: these are the slowest of the outfield players who came out from the first minutes.

In past Guardiola more than once gave rise to criticism by overloading his players with complex tactical tasks. Nobody sabotaged, but sometimes there was too much information, and the team simply did not understand what to do. The most striking example – when it surfaced – the departure from Lyon to the playoffs of the Champions League, after which journalists from Alexander Zinchenko became aware of the players’ bewilderment. It’s amazing that even more complex ideas are now yielding results.

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Can be attributed to the weakness of the opponents, but the victory over Chelsea also had a lot of difficult tactical decisions, starting with a false nine and ending with a false fullback.

In fact, City is playing even better than the results suggest. Implementation interferes, as usual. This season it is not a failure, within the limits of the permissible, but it could have been better: only 36% of City’s shots hit the target, according to this indicator the team is not in the top-8. Although in terms of the number of shots from outside the penalty area – in second place. In general, a typical “City”.

Calm scores against Sheffield and Brighton can be misleading. In fact, the victories weren’t hard. Actually, and “Burnley” were lucky to get a job at 0: 2 – the score could be higher. Another obvious moment was not used by the guests, plus the kick on Jesus’ leg when he was in the shock position was very reminiscent of a penalty kick. More important is not the score, but something else: “City” powerfully controls the course of matches and does not allow the opponents to do anything. In the last six rounds (in which there were zero conceded), the opponents struck a total of 28 shots at Guardiola’s goal. 11 of them are on account of Aston Villa, which fiercely resisted, but still did not squeeze a single moment. And the remaining 17 shots allowed fall on the other five matches. This is total control.

De Bruyne does not play – how does this affect?

In short, no way. Here are the stats: In the last three Premier League rounds (excluding De Bruyne) City have averaged 1.9 xG per game. And during the whole season minus the last three matches – 2 xG per match. The 5% difference is too small to look at. Yes, I repeat, the opponents are weak. Yes, just three matches is too small a sample. But such an even dynamics of creating chances, regardless of the presence or absence of the most creative player in the Premier League in the last few years, is impressive in any case.

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What is also important: without De Bruyne, the number of moments does not change, but the structure changes. Since the start of the season, the team has made an average of 16 crossings per game. With Burnley there were 8 of them, and only in the last three rounds – 27, that is, an average of 9 per game. Almost half as much as with the Belgian. Why it matters: His perfect serve was both City’s powerful weapon and a stylistic weakness, a departure from Guardiola’s rules. In the absence of de Bruyne, the team showed that they did not become dependent on these canopies – otherwise the number of canopies would not have decreased, but simply their effectiveness dropped. But when there is no player on the field with such a pass, City began to radically less often resort to sheds.

Kevin de Bruyne

Kevin de Bruyne

Photo: Getty Images

Guardiola has a match with Liverpool ahead. Jürgen Klopp for a long time masked personnel problems, but in the last matches all problems caught up with Liverpool at the same time. Any experimental combination in the center of defense looks risky, the whole team is tired as a whole and is losing exactly those components in which Liverpool have always been great: the fight for the second goals, single combats. In the meantime, there are already seven points between the teams and City have a game in reserve.

Criticizing Klopp is stupid. He faced an unsolvable problem

We used to admire Liverpool’s transfer policy. But now everything is terrible.

Yes, De Bruyne’s absence is a loss, no matter how effectively he was replaced. But on the whole, City has not approached the match with the main rivals for a long time in such a favorable situation.

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