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Guardiola & Manchester City - Early Season Analysis

This short article is an early look at the analysis we have done thus far on Guardiola and Man City during this initial phase of the 2019-2020 Season.

Inverted Full Backs:

Guardiola has stuck with his base 1-4-3-3 Shape/System with the trend for Zinchenko (Left Back) or Walker (Right Back) to invert and overload the central channel. When one Full Back inverts, the second Full Back is more fixed with traditional roles to overlap/underlap when possession reaches the opposition half. It will be interesting to see the integration of Joao Cancelo and how Guardiola will evolve his positional profile in comparison to what we saw from Cancelo at Juventus.

Overload in Wide Areas:

A common principle in Guardiola's positional play model is the creation of numerical superiority. From our analysis of pre-season and vs Spurs in the EPL, Guardiola is using the wide & interior channels to overload the opponent (Space Between the Lines & Behind the Opposition Back 4) to penetrate and gain entries inside the Penalty Box.

The principles in wide areas are as follows:

1 - Interior Channel Run to exploit depth

2 - Width to stretch the opponent and provide options wide (Both Sides - either Wingers or Full Backs create the Width)

3 - Support Options behind the ball and sideways (Switch the play through MFD's, Inverted Full Backs or Restart through the Centre Backs)

4 - Forward Runs/Options into the opposition Penalty Box (Blind-Side Runs, 3-4 Players in the 18 yard box)

New Goal Kick Rule:

Another evolution this season from Pep Guardiola is the structure and build up strategy from Goal Kicks. With the new rule in place, Man City's approach to Goal Kicks will be key to unlocking opponents that attempts high pressing.

On Goal Kicks, we've seen City position both Centre Back's inside the 18 yard box plus set Double Pivote's at the top of the box for central outlets. Both Full Backs push high and wide for Diagonal passes, while the wingers invert to overload the central channel with the support from the Centre Forward and additional Midfield Player.

The starting structure on Goal Kicks does adapt based on what spaces are available and this will be an interesting topic to continue reviewing in future matches (Diagram #1 provides an image on the typical structure from Goal Kicks).

A key aspect in favour of City with the new rule is the strength of Ederson's distribution. Ederson has the qualitative superiority to:

#1 - Initiate Short Build through the CB's and progressively break lines

#2 - Eliminate the Opposition Pressure and Play Diagonal Passes into the High/Wide Full Backs

#3 - Play Direct into the Central Overload for Flick On's, 2nd Balls or Counter Pressing

Below is the analysis that we've created based on the above themes:

Video #1:

Man City vs West Ham in Pre Season:

- Inverted Full Backs

- Overloads in wide areas (2v1's)

- Blindside Runs into the Far Post Area

- Shape & Application of the new Goal Kick Rule

- Counter Pressing

Diagram #1 - Example Shape of Man City on Goal Kicks:

- Drop CB's inside the 18 & in line with keeper

- Push the FB's High & Wide & Invert Wingers (Create 2v1 Superiority out wide)

- Centralize 2 MFD Pivotes (Create 5v3 Superiority in build up)

Diagram #2 - Man City 1-4-3-3- Shape Adapting into a Back 3 with both Full Backs inverting centrally:

Video #2:

Man City vs Yokohama in Pre Season - Example of Positional Play Principles applied during the Build up Phase:

- Numerical Superiority

- Positional Superiority

- Qualitative Superiority

- Find the Free Player

- Progression

Video #3:

Man City vs Spurs - Goals Analysis:

- Support Behind the ball to switch play

- Switch & Through Lines

- Switch & Around the Block

- Interior Channel Runs

- Triangle Support in wide areas

- Numbers inside the 18 yard box

- Quality Crossing & Finishing (Early Crosses & Exploit the Far Post Zone)

More analysis on Guardiola and Man City will be shared in future post throughout this years 2019-2020 season. This early look provides some insights on what we can expect from Man City and I am excited to see the evolutions that are developed.

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