Saturday, April 1, 2023

Decoding Pep Guardiola’s Tactics: How Man City Won The Game Against Man United

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Rainar Angelo
An ardent follower of Manchester United who in his spare time likes to unravel mysteries of football and music. He also believes in continuously interacting with people in order to view things from a different perspective.

Pep Guardiola walked away victorious in his first win of the series of battles against his arch rival Jose Mourinho. The game was pretty much decided in the first half, and while United had responded better in the second half there was no genuine reason for Mourinho’s abysmal team selection that probably caused them to lose a Derby game, that many favored them to walk away with.

Manchester City had an intensive first half with Kevin De Bruyne stunning almost everyone with his unbelievable does of energy on the pitch. Claudio Bravo had his debut, a bit fortunate to have stayed on after that tackle on Wayne Rooney but this was no excuse for the Red Devils dismal performance.


Where did the weakness lie?

It may be a bit harsh to point out the weakness but this is where United suffered, and considering they conceded early but the lack of presence in midfield was the reason the long ball which was headed on de Bruyne saw it reach its destination in the first place. This helped create space through the center, which saw both Stones and Otamendi combine with Kolarov and Sagna, Kolarov in particular who had a lot of freedom to deliver long balls into the other half.

First goal

Figure 1 How Kolarov’s long ball initiated the goal| Source:

The fact that city played narrow forced United to play wide with the result being dismal performances from Lingard and Mkhitaryan who failed to do anything productive in the final third, well, most of the what they played really. Pogba is still finding his feet, despite the number of take-on, the midfielder is not looking comfortable in the current United set-up. As, mentioned in my article when Pogba arrived, I personally still feel a 4-3-3 is more his forte with our current squad. The player who had a genuine impact for United was Herrera and Valencia was the reason we hadn’t conceded more.

Responding in the second half

Guardiola had to bring on Fernando and take of Iheanacho to ensure United wouldn’t equalize in the second half or even win the game for that matter, and United’s more direct approach, with some stunning aggression from Herrera, who did really well to push City onto the back foot. City failed to capitalize several 4v3 and 4v4 scenarios, ironically, which wasn’t the case in the first half. Ibrahimovic, surprisingly had a horrible game barring the only goal United scored, having misplaced several shots, lack of patience probably coming into play here.

Ibrahimovic shot map

Figure 2 Ibra shot map | source:-


United will definitely learn from this game, and to be positive about this, a loss is what will ensure that the team prevents complacency as the season goes on. Mourinho certainly has to sort his selection process, with the likes of Lingard definitely having let him down. Mkhitaryan, too, wasn’t the player we expected him to be and the ‘dab boy’ Pogba will have to find his feet as early as possible. Pep may have won the battle, but not the war.

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