Man City Vs Leeds United Timeline – Marcelo Bielsa vs Pep Guardiola. The master versus the student. Football fanatics have waited seven years for another clash between Bielsa and Pep. The two philosophers of the game who significantly influenced how modern football remains viewed gave fans a thrilling experience on Saturday, a game of football that would remain remembered for decades.
Manchester City started the game strongly, giving the master a taste of his medicine. However, in the second half, the master recovered and gave the manager plenty to think about.
This tactical analysis will discuss the managers’ tactics and the game’s intricacies. This analysis will also discuss Bielsa’s changes in the second half to bring Leeds United back into the game.
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Man City Vs Leeds United Timeline Line Up
Marcelo Bielsa had to make a forced change to the form of Jack Harrison, who was ineligible to face his parent club. Ezgjan Alioski replaced him on the left wing. Patrick Bamford, Mateusz Klich, Tyler Roberts, and Hélder Costa formed the top five in 4-1-4-1. Kalvin Phillips was the sole center in front of Stuart Dallas, Liam Cooper, Robin Koch, and Luke Ayling. Illan Meslier started between the sticks.
Pep Guardiola started with his preferred 4-3-3 formation but made few changes from the previous Premier League game against Leicester City. Fernandinho began to be on the bench and remained replaced by Ferran Torres, who started at right back. He remained accompanied by Riyad Mahrez, who played as a false 9, and Raheem Sterling on the left wing. The midfielder remained made up of Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Rodri. In defense, Ederson remained protected by Benjamin Mendy, Aymeric Laporte, Rúben Dias and Kyle Walker.
Man City’s Escalation Against The Leeds Press
Leeds put pressure on Manchester City in two ways: human marking along with pendulum pressure from the pivot and human marking 4-2-3-1.
Below is an image showing the marking of the Leeds man who initiates the pendulum pressure on the pivot. Eight players remained marked initially, Costa remained between Mendy and Laporte, close to the French defender, and Cooper or Koch remained free, without drawing anyone, depending on Mahrez’s movement.
White: Leeds; Black: City of Man
Leeds didn’t want to give Ederson too much time on the ball due to his abilities. When Ederson had the ball, Bamford moved forward to pressure him, placing a shadow covering the pivot (Rodri), and Roberts moved from pressing Dias to marking the pivot. If the Brazilian goalkeeper passed the ball to Dias, Roberts moved to press—Dias again, and Bamford retreated to keep the pivot.
To get away from the pendulum pressure and make space for Ederson, Rodri tried to move away from the two players.
As seen in the image above, when Bamford rose to press Ederson, Rodri moved to the left, away from Roberts, leaving Roberts in unfamiliar territory. However, Bamford did an incredible job of covering Rodri’s shadow perfectly and blocking the passing lane.
The other method City adopted was for their central defenders to carry the ball forward. Rodri remained level in the pendulum press but distanced Bamford from Roberts, leaving Bamford with both defenders to score and giving Leeds a 4-2-3-1 structure.
Bamford couldn’t mark both center-backs simultaneously, which led to the ball-carrying center-back carrying the ball forward into the opposition half. It was a standard method City used in this match. The main idea was to ignore human markers through dribbling and movement.
It put the Leeds press in a problem, and they made a severe error in the 30th minute, which could have cost Leeds dearly.
Bamford and Roberts communicated poorly and decided to mark both defenders, leaving Rodi unmarked.
Rodri took the ball into the opponent’s half, with Roberts staying behind. However, a poor pass from Rodri broke City’s attack.
City Players Remained Instructed To Use A Lot Of Dribbling To Avoid The Male Markers
Here, Mendy dribbled past Costa, which led to Klich losing KDB’s focus. Mendy attracted Klich, passed the ball to KDB, and created a dangerous situation. Phillips was huge in this case and won the ball back for Leeds, thus preventing Leeds from conceding an early goal.
City’s players also used swinging movements to ignore Leeds’ markers and dribble.
Here, Mendy passed the ball to Mahrez, who played as a ‘false 9’, and played the ball first to Sterling, who initially made a backward movement to clear Ayling and then a forward movement past the Leeds full-back.
The Enigma Of Leeds’ First Half
Leeds United struggled in the first half to get around Manchester City’s press. The Whites accumulated 0.91 xG in the first half compared to 1.58 in the second half. The home team had four shots in the first half, compared to eight in the second. Leeds took a few shots in the first half, but didn’t come from a defensive defense.
Leeds’ use of flanks in preparation is already known to everyone. Even against Man City, the Whites have an attack rate of 74% on both flanks.
The home team intended to play both on the flanks (mainly left) and in the half spaces (mainly right) between Man City’s second and last line of defense and Kalvin Phillips.
Man City set up a 4-3-3 high block, similar to Liverpool’s, with Mahrez casting a shadow over Phillips. Sterling (LW) and Torres (RW) sat between their opposing defenders and the full-back. The three Cityzens midfielders closed off the press, preventing any Leeds midfielder from playing in the middle.
The Leeds unit remained set up as shown in the image above, with the five attackers in a 4-1-4-1 formation, positioning themselves relatively higher and vacating the central region of their midfield.
When the Leeds goalkeeper makes a pass to the center-back, the winger of that respective vertical midfielder presses the center-back diagonally, casting a shadow on the full-back. The midfielder in that vertical midfield moves slightly towards the wing to cover the winger, should Leeds find their way to the full-back.
Here, Meslier threw a pass to Cooper. As soon as he passed the ball, Torres pressured Cooper to enter, placing a shadow over Dallas, thus blocking the path to the left-back. When Cooper returned the ball to the goalkeeper, Torres had a license to move forward and pressure Meslier with the same body orientation, forcing Meslier to play toward the other vertical half.
Meslier tried to find Ayling through a lofted ball while Sterling advanced to press Koch with the same body orientation.
As Meslier passed to right-back, De Bruyne appeared to cover Sterling and intercept the ball. It was difficult for Leeds to access the flanks through this method, as City’s six forwards were up to the task.
Man City Vs Leeds United Timeline – The match was end to end, with Leeds finishing on a high note and probably should have won the game. Leeds attempted 12 shots, seven on target, and Man City attempted an impressive 25 shots, with just one on target, demonstrating City’s struggles in front of goal without Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus.
Leeds v Manchester City was another game in which each team tried to break the other’s build by pressing high. And whoever did better seemed to be the better side. Man City suffocated Leeds with their high blocking in the first half and looked like a much better team, while Leeds invented ways to break Man City’s blocking and looked like a much better team in the second half.
The master x mister ended in a draw, but the football game the fans witnessed will remain etched in their reminiscences for a long time.
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