Feature

Pep's tactical switch that changed the game for City

Manchester City recorded a historic 3-1 win over Barcelona, thanks in large part to coach Pep Guardiola's tactical switch against his old side.

Pep Guardiola

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Source: Getty Images

After 38 minutes against Barcelona it looked like City were destined for another poor result. Just ask Guardiola. 

At this moment, with Barca leading 1-0 and dominating possession, you could feel those hot-take opinions warming up; Pep's a fruad, he's nothing without Lionel Messi, he needs the best players in the world. 

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But then he made a change.

In the 39th minute, Guardiola yelled instructions at David Silva, who had started the game centrally in an attacking three behind striker Sergio Aguero. 

Silva directed Kevin De Bruyne, who started on the left of the attacking three, to switch positions with him.

David Silva Kevin De Bruyne


Silva KDB


Just 15 seconds later, the ball was in the back of the net. City 1 Barca 1. An instant impact.

De Bruyne pressed Javier Mascherano who played a rushed pass to Sergi Roberto. Silva who was now wide on the left pressed the Barca right-back who as a result played a very poor pass in the direction of Sergio Busquets but it was instead intercepted by Aguero on the edge of the box.

The Argentinian striker played through Raheem Sterling who slid the ball across for Ilkay Gundogan who smashed the ball home from 6 yards out. 



Guardiola explained in his post-match press conference that he had started Silva through the middle in order to mark Busquets. Silva did this job well, but Barca's centre-backs were able to deal with this by playing long-diagonal passes directly to Neymar, Messi and Suarez. 

De Bruyne, a more direct player than Silva, meant City could create more counter-attacking chances and expose the space often left behind Busquets, who tends to press the opposition high. 

KDB SB


KDB SB RS


KDB MTS


It was a very similar move that led to the third goal with De Bruyne launching the counter-attack.

KDB corner


KDB Navas


Gundogol


The German midfielder's two goals more than made up for his error that was the main culprit in Barca's opening goal. 

Kolarov and Gundogan


Gundogan


Messi Neymar


Messi KDB Neymar


It was a fascinating match as Guardiola once again showed why he is the best manager in the world. 




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2 min read
Published 2 November 2016 at 5:11pm
By Nick Stoll