Why Pep Guardiola should revisit his Barcelona tactics at Manchester City

Manchester City drew with Crystal Palace 2-2 in the Premier League last weekend. Pep Guardiola’s team thus remained in the fourth position in the league table with 34 points from 17 matches.
City’s underwhelming run thus continued, as Palace bounced back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a draw. A lot of teams now go into matches against Manchester City with the belief that they can snatch at least a point from them. City is now five and four points adrift of Arsenal and Liverpool, respectively, with 17 rounds of matches gone.

Manchester’s City have some areas for concern:

Manchester City have clearly been lacking Kevin de Bruyne’s influence down the middle this season. Against Crystal Palace, who kept defending with 10 men for a considerable portion of the match, the Cityzens played a lot of aerial balls into the box. They threw numbers upfront and played with all their players inside the opposition half for a considerable amount of time.
Needless to mention that they will be stronger in attack once De Bruyne comes back into the side. Still, without de Bruyne and Haaland in the playing XI, Guardiola’s men looked like lesser mortals.
Moreover, their defence continued to be a concern and the propensity to concede goals in every match is a malaise that the treble-winners will have to address. It should not come as a surprise if the Cityzens decide to buy another defender in the January transfer window. The likes of Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake have been underwhelming this season, which has increased Guardiola’s worries.
City have predominantly played with a back-four this season, but have repeatedly been found wanting when their opponents have played counter-attacking football or long balls past their defensive line.

Manchester City have some easier matches in the offing:

Manchester City will face easier opponents like Sheffield United, Everton, Burnley and Brentford in the next month or so, with only the formidable Newcastle United thrown in the mix in between. Even a good run in those matches might not mean that City will be able to wrest back the top position from Liverpool once again, unless the Reds perform poorly.

Guardiola’s tactics at Barcelona could be employed at Manchester City as well:

As mentioned earlier, Manchester City have been guilty of allowing their opponents to stage a comeback quite often in the recent past. Their playing style has become more direct with the inclusion of the likes of Erling Haaland and Jeremy Doku.

However, once they have taken the lead, there is a necessity to alter the tempo of the game by playing more passes in the middle third. Xavi used to do it so beautifully for Barcelona, and neither Rodri nor John Stones seems to be able to do it.

Rodri has so often been critically important for his team when the game is played at a high pace. Now, he will have to develop the ability to slow the game down with the help of his teammates with frequent exchange of passes in the midfield, when his team takes a lead.

It is very important for the Cityzens to start playing more passes sideways or backward, just like Pep’s Barcelona did at times, instead of always playing on a high gear.

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