According to champions league betting odds, Manchester City, alongside Liverpool, have the best chances of taking home the cup this season.
City’s performance this season has so far been unforgettable. Their recent 4-1 win against Southampton secured a semi-final spot in the FA Cup, while they have also been preparing to take on Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter final.
There is much excitement over Manchester City’s chances of a treble victory with Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup wins this season. Many believe it is the strong leadership and tactical planning of Pep Guardiola that has given the team the opportunity to thrive in recent years.
While most are aware of Pep’s record at Manchester City, few are truly aware of how the Spanish football manager got to where he is today.
Pep’s rise to fame
Pep started out as a player himself, he was a defensive midfielder that spent the majority of his playing career at Barcelona. He was part of the legendary team that was responsible for the club’s first European Cup in the year 1992.
Guardiola was captain from 1997 until he left in 2001. The player also spent time at Italian teams Brescia and Roma, Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico and Al-Ahli SC based in Doha in Qatar.
(A review of Guardiola’s ability as a player)
Following his player retirement, he coached the Barcelona B team and led them to victory in the Tercera División. Then, as manager, he helped Barcelona win a treble in La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League.
His early managerial success led Pep to being named the FIFA World Coach of the Year. In 2013 he took over as manager for Bayern Munich before leaving them for Manchester in 2016.
How have Pep Guardiola’s tactics transformed Manchester City into one of the world’s best teams?
While Pep is known for a whole host of impressive accolades, there are some tactical decisions that have defined his managerial career and helped Manchester City to become one of the leading clubs in football.
Positional play and rotation
Pep is responsible for Manchester’s high degree of positional rotation and fluidity, as he enforces rehearsed movement and decision making in training. This has enabled his players to become experts in scanning the field and adjusting their positioning at key moments in the game.
If looking at the pitch in vertical lines, you will never see more than two of Manchester’s players taking up space in the same vertical corridor. This has helped the team’s resilience and meant that their lack of a centre forward is less of an issue.
While Dortmund, Paris Saint Germain, and Barcelona may have racked up more possession this season, Manchester City have managed to generate more shots and chances, showcasing their dominance with the ball.
The 4-3-3 system of play
Another tactic commonly used by Pep Guardiola is the 4-3-3 system of play. Playing as a 4-3-3 continues to bring the team significant success this season, however in reality the team doesn’t actually operate much like a 4-3-3.
The team has gradually been shifted from an 4-2-3-1 system towards a 4-3-3, however Pep’s version shares similarities with Marcelo Bielsa’s famous 3-3-1-3. There are some differences here between Bielsa and Guardiola’s wing backs and wingers positioning.
Bielsa often used wingbacks to overload wide areas, whereas Pep’s team preferred to tuck in fallbacks and use them more as midfielders. While Bielsa is more likely to use midfielders in defence, Pep is more likely to use his defenders in the midfield.
Pep’s pressing tactic is also working wonders for Manchester City. The team usually press intensely into the wide areas, giving the opposition little room to breathe.
Within the wide areas created by this, the team looks to make diamond shapes to stop the other team from playing out. The narrow diamond gives the other team no other option but to switch play to the other side if they want to get away.
Lastly, something that Pep Guardiola is known to believe is that it takes an average of 15 passes for one team to unbalance its opposition. Because of this Manchester City do not overuse long passes, instead they will try to keep possession of the ball and continually communicate with one another to ensure open space is always utilised to their advantage.
This is likely to be why Manchester City have one of the best passing and possession statistics in the league.
With Pep Guardiola at the helm, Manchester City continues to be an unstoppable force in English and European football. The manager takes lessons learned from his own days on the pitch to guide the new generation of players to become resilient and skilled footballers, capable of dominating the pitch.