Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, current leaders in the Premier League, are set to be Inter’s opponent in the Champions League final after their landslide 4-0 victory over Real Madrid. The Cityzens had drawn the first leg 1-1 at the Bernabeu last week, but ended up dominating Los Blancos at the Etihad.
For years now, Guardiola’s team has been well tested and beating them was always a complicated feat. They employ ball possession, they have plenty of speed and technical ability and there is plenty of organization. This year, City added a massive reinforcement known as Erling Braut Haaland. In total, the 6’4″ 22-year-old Norwegian striker has scored 52 goals in 48 games between the Premier League, domestic cups and Champions League.
The players placed behind him are no slouches either. This starts with the dynamic veteran midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who has served up 27 assists out of 44 games this season, an average of more than one assist every two games. There is also Rodri in the middle of the field to bring balance and alongside him Mahrez and Bernardo Silva to add to the great quality.
Limiting the Sky Blues offensively seems (almost) impossible as they scored 27 goals in the Champions League alone in the span of 11 games. Their offensive prowess in the Premier League is even more prolific as they knocked in 92 goals in 35 games played.
Simone Inzaghi has his work cut out for him to find weaknesses in this team. In recent years, the English club seemed defensively fragile and found difficulty in controlling matches. However, this year Guardiola seems to have fixed several issues in their defensive play (also give thanks to the transfer market).
In the setting phase, the central defender or the full-back – whether it’s Stones, Akanji, Walker or Ruben Dias – often creeps up to the midfielder area to allow the wingers plenty of space to play the ball and find more chances to find spaces in the opposing midfield and defense.
The defensive phase of the City game is no different: just 5 goals conceded in the Champions League and 31 in the league. In the Premier League, they’ve been much better than even the overall numbers suggest, perhaps demonstrating that sometimes the team relaxes too much if they are well ahead. In fact, the last time City conceded more than 1 goal in any competition was on January 19th in a 4-2 win over Tottenham – a league match that saw them fall behind 0-2 by the end of the first half.
On several occasions though, Manchester City have conceded goals after relaxing too much with a sizable lead (Bournemouth, Southampton and Leicester are in the bottom half of the league table). Not only that, it also happened with Leipzig and Bayern Munich. Therefore, if Guardiola’s team cannot spread their attack, there could be a possibility of scoring on them on the counter. The problem will be curbing that Cityzens’ attack as Real Madrid would tell you. Inter has been forewarned.