It was Manchester City vs Liverpool which ended in a total debacle for the newly crowned Premier League champions Liverpool FC. After honouring the Liverpool players for the Premier League with a guard of honour, We will look into how Pep Guardiola completed such a victory against Klopp’s team which has by far smashed almost every big team on their way. We will dig into our Manchester City vs Liverpool Tactical Analysis to know more about this fixture at Etihad stadium.
It was a high voltage affair at Etihad as Manchester City was facing newly crowned English Champions Liverpool. The focal point before the match was City giving a guard of honour to Liverpool, congratulating them about their Premier League victory. The proceedings of the match began with the much-awaited guard of honour as Liverpool players entered the pitch. But this can be marked as the only positive for Liverpool the whole day.
The Beginning of the Match: Liverpool dominating the proceedings
In our Manchester City vs Liverpool tactical analysis, let’s see how the teams formed up during the match. Liverpool began with a starting formation of 4-3-3, City also had a starting formation of 4-3-3 with Phil Foden at right wing for City. As the match proceeded, it was clear that City was playing in a 4-4-2 formation with De Bruyne dropping just below Jesus up front and the two City wingers moving into the wide midfield. Liverpool started the match on the high with the front three pressing the City backline heavily.
The City backline moved toward the extreme sides of the box to allow the fullbacks to stay forward. As a result, there was a gap in the middle for the Liverpool front 3 as they pressed narrowly from the beginning to cut the wide passes out.
To counter that Gundogan dropped into the centre back position to give the numerical superiority to City and also, on the other hand, providing a passing option. As a result, Gundogan tried to play the ball out wide but Liverpool countered that with Henderson, Wijnaldum and one of the fullbacks pressing the Manchester City defence high in the vulnerable zone with high intensity. As a result, Liverpool were able to get hold of loose balls in the final third of City, but couldn’t do much of it due to their poor finishing.
Liverpool on the other hand when playing out from the back took a 3-4-3 shape, Fabinho dropped at back to become the third centre-back. Robertson and Trent moved forward with Henderson and Wijnaldum to join the midfield press. Firmino dropped deep to engage in a duel with Rodri and the two wing forwards Salah and Mane making runs inside the channel to make the most of the long balls sent from the backline of their team.
Manchester City vs Liverpool Tactical Analysis: How did it unwind
Let’s look deep into how the match unfolded in our Manchester City vs Liverpool Tactical Analysis. Though both the sides started with the 4-3-3 formation, City quickly changed their shape as the match unfolded by taking a 4-4-2 shape. De Bruyne as a second striker didn’t have to drop deep unlike the Chelsea match. He was fed the balls by players like Rodri and Gundogan. His main duty was to run against Liverpool backline. As a result, De Bruyne was pretty much dealing with the attacking rather than participating in the midfield press.
The Saga of Long Balls
In our Manchester City vs Liverpool tactical analysis, we can talk about both Liverpool and Manchester City playing with a high backline, it was pretty obvious in their attacking transition that both the team tried to play out long balls directing to their forwards. Liverpool especially played a lot of long balls targeting Mane. Van Dijk, Trent, Gomez and Fabinho took the onus of supplying long balls to Mane.
The plan was to aim the long balls to Mane who would receive the ball and with his blistering pace cut inside and play a combination with his other two frontline players and find a chance in front of the goal. The plan was near almost executed perfectly by the backline but Mane somehow couldn’t make much of it. Salah hit the bar from such a chance.
City also adopted this strategy at the beginning but with two tall center backs in the Liverpool ranks. City shifted from that strategy.
Breaking the Liverpool Press: City’s domination begins
City, as the match proceeded, grew in confidence. With Liverpool playing with high pressing and high backline it leaves a lot of place for the City in the midfield. As Jesus started to drop just in the space in the midfield, by giving him the ball and with him running at Liverpool defence it becomes a 4 vs 3 situations as City players were running straight at Liverpool backline.
As Liverpool midfield along with central defensive midfielder Fabinho also pressing high there is a lot of space in between the Liverpool backline and midfield. City forwards Foden, Sterling, Jesus and De Bruyne made most of that. With a between the line pass from the backline, City were ready to go and haunt the Liverpool backline.
We see this clearly in Sterling’s goal with a pass from Mendy to Gundogan there was no ball sided Liverpool midfielders as all were pressing high as a result it was an easy pass to Jesus than to Foden with Sterling in a free position on the left it was easy for him to get hold of the ball and convert it easily.
Sloppy Gomez and vulnerable right side for Liverpool
Gomez had a bad day in the office. He was not only the reason behind City’s penalty after fouling Sterling inside the box. He made a lot of unnecessary errors in the back.
With him and Trent found in out of position situation Sterling and the rest of City forwards made a lot of inroads into the Liverpool defence from the right side of the pitch. Mendy and De Bruyne made some lethal deliveries into the box from the right but they couldn’t make the most of it.
Kevin De Bruyne Masterclass
One player we have to talk about in our Manchester City vs Liverpool tactical analysis is Kevin De Bruyne, he was the go-to man for City. He was playing mostly as the second striker but his role becomes much more important in the Liverpool half he was easily finding half-spaces. As he was playing and moving centrally we see from both the sides Mendy and Walker overlapped quite a lot. As a result, there was a lot of space for him to operate in the centre.
City midfielders Rodri and Gundogan were trying a lot to play the between the line pass targeting Kevin who creates havoc with his through balls in the Liverpool defence. In case of counter-attacks, De Bruyne was the main player whom the others passed to as it was easy for him, finding the half-spaces he played the ball onto the free players in space to the wide due to the high backline and pressing Liverpool defence was often cut off from the midfield leaving a lot of space to be exploited in the wings.
In case of Foden’s goal and Chamberlain’s own goal we precisely see these spaces being exploited by the City players. De Bruyne registered a goal and an assist which was crucial for this match.
Stats tells the Story
Liverpool played with Passes Allowed Per Defensive Action (PPDA) of 15 which was very high from their point of view. This proved the lack of intensity in Liverpool’s pressing during the 90 minutes duration. This made the things a lot easy for City to dominate the midfield.
xG for City was 2.86 compared to Liverpool’s 0.86 making it a well-deserved victory for Manchester City. Though this Liverpool side is already a champion, this can be a wake-up call for them before the next season. City will get a much-needed boost before meeting Real Madrid in the UCL Round of 16 match in August. That’s all for today in our Manchester City vs Liverpool Tactical Analysis.
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