Lyon vs Manchester City

Lyon vs Manchester City Preview: Lyon To Themselves

The first game of City’s Champions League campaign happened to be their worst result of the season so far. A 1-2 reverse to Olympique Lyonnais has since been followed by several decisive European victories against Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk, but as City’s only defeat this season the memory still lingers.

Did Lyon’s win mean they have some sort of secret sauce to beat City? Not particularly. This was more City being out of sorts in their initial Champions League encounter

Lyon’s defensive shape was pretty high, though they were decidedly not pressing City’s center-backs, waiting until the ball moved to Fernandinho to apply pressure. This is generally the right approach as City can eviscerate a high press and conceding too much space is often a death sentence.

City’s Usage Rates from the game appear to show Lyon’s approach worked, with Fernandinho’s Usage substantially increased from his season’s average as he struggled with passing and lost the ball three times. That said, most of the time City failed in the buildup it was mostly their own making, not an exceptional Lyon effort. Read More

West Ham vs Manchester City

West Ham vs Manchester City Preview: What hope the Hammers?

Previewing Manchester City games is like reading Romeo and Juliet for the first time: you know how it ends even if you don’t know how it will quite get there.

Pep Guardiola’s team are favourites to take home the Premier League trophy again this season. If you doubt this fact, then maybe the data will convince you. Take, for example, expected goal (xG) values from the 12 games so far this season. Of the top six teams, Manchester City are the only side who have consistently produced a greater xG for than their opponents have produced against them.

West Ham vs Manchester City Premier League Preview

If this isn’t impressive enough as it is, City’s average xG For – hovering, as it is, just below the 3 xG per 90 line – has only been bettered by Manchester United in one of their games so far (against Bournemouth away). Guardiola, then, is producing an average xG For better than Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United have managed in 11 of their 12 games. Read More

Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United

View From The Press Box: Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United

Paul Pogba might be glad he got to watch this one from the stands. Some of Manchester City’s play mesmerised spectators and opposition alike, and with the injured Pogba falling into both of these categories he may not have known what to make of it.

The sky blue half of Manchester went home happy, having seen their manager, Pep Guardiola, outsmart the opposition, and their players win a Manchester derby with relative ease.

They weaved in and out, buzzing around the red obstacles using their quicker feet, sharper minds, and crisper passing to bamboozle their opponents.

The troubles United would have in this game were laid bare in the opening few minutes. David Silva and Bernardo Silva were finding acres of space, leaving the opposition unsure as to who should track them.

Manchester City regularly play with these dual attacking midfielders in a midfield three, but today they roamed back and forth, and ventured out wide, leaving opposing full-backs, defensive midfielders, and wingers unsure as to who should be keeping an eye on them. Read More

Manchester City vs Manchester United Premier League Preview

Manchester City vs Manchester United Preview: Key men to the left?

Go back seven months to the last Manchester derby and Manchester United ruined Manchester City’s coronation. Pep Guardiola’s side were 2-0 up at half-time, set to be crowned champions in front of their neighbours. What followed was irrelevant in one respect – they clinched the Premier League title the following weekend – but not in others. If it spared United the ignominy of seeing City celebrate and got Jose Mourinho a rare win over Guardiola, it also showed Paul Pogba’s catalytic impact.

The Frenchman scored twice in United’s comeback that day. If his performances this season have attracted decidedly mixed reviews, the numbers offer another picture. Pogba ranks second in Twelve’s Premier League leader board for the season, behind only Leicester’s Harry Maguire.

Examine the different coloured bars and it shows how his contribution stretches across the pitch, underlying his abilities as a box-to-box midfielder. It suggests he is the best all-round player in the division (at least while City’s Kevin de Bruyne is injured). If he does not have as many attacking points as City’s David Silva, he has delivered more in defence and off the ball. Read More

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City: A Cold Tuesday Night in Ukraine

Is there anything to win when you put your billion-Pound star ensemble on an airplane and travel across Europe to play in the cold of the Slobidshchyna? At least three points in the Champions League group stage. That is the motivation for Pep Guardiola, knowing that Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City might not turn out to be pretty. But that is not what City is all about right now.

Some football philosophers may suggest that the best teams sometimes look average and win nevertheless. That is what Manchester City have done in the past few weeks. Usually, head coach Guardiola comes up with a variety of tactical ideas; some outlandish, most brilliant.

But the Catalan also knows how valuable his players are and how many of them can make match-altering moves. It is the beauty of the current City squad that the likes of Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sané battle for two spots in the starting XI, that Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus often battle for one berth, with Guardiola knowing that each of them can rip through defences and score the one decisive goal. Read More

Liverpool 0-0 Manchester City

View From The Press Box: City Used Napoli’s Sky-Blueprint To Tame Reds

Liverpool versus Manchester City was one of the most entertaining battles witnessed last season, both in terms of tactics and as a spectacle.

Jürgen Klopp’s side were the team which ended the eventual Premier League champions’ unbeaten run in January, and also knocked them out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.

Pep Guardiola has had plenty of time to apply his meticulous research and preparation methods to this particular opposition, and even though Liverpool aren’t firing on all cylinders at the moment, he was able to make noticeable progress at Anfield, where Manchester City haven’t won since 2003.

When the lineups were released the unexpected change came in the Liverpool side. Dejan Lovren replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold meaning Joe Gomez would be shifted across to right back.

This suggested that Klopp might be going with a shape similar to the one they faced at Napoli in midweek, when Carlo Ancelotti used Nikola Maksimović as the right centre-back of a three when attacking and as a right-back in a four when defending. Read More

Manchester City vs Brighton

Manchester City vs Brighton: How well has Bernardo replaced De Bruyne?

Six weeks in to the Premier League and Manchester City keep chugging along nicely. After the disappointing loss to Lyon in the Champions League, City responded in fine style against Cardiff and Oxford with eight goals scored in total and none conceded.

What’s perhaps been the most impressive element of City’s start to the season is that it comes without Kevin De Bruyne running the entire midfield. Last year, De Bruyne had the highest usage rate (the percentage of a team’s possessions in which a given player has the final action) of any City player by a wide margin, and he also rated as Twelve’s top attacker.

One of the key questions when he went down through injury was who would take on the offensive burden he carried last season. In order to measure that, below is a table showing each player’s usage rate so far this season compared with their record last season (for players with a minimum of 270 minutes in both campaigns): Read More

Manchester City 1-2 Lyon

View From The Press Box: Manchester City 1-2 Lyon

In a new feature for Twelve, James Nalton reports from the press box on Manchester City 1-2 Lyon.

For modern Manchester City, defeats are a rarity. When looking at the bigger picture, and the club’s history, that they are even competing in the Champions League is something. That they expect to win every game they play is something else. This is how far they have come in a short space of time but even though they rarely lose, defeat to Olympique Lyonnais means they have now lost their last four in this competition.

It was December of last year that Pep Guardiola’s side tasted defeat for the first time in the 2017/18 season, when they lost to wily European campaigners Shakhtar Donetsk. Their manager used the loss to spur his side on for the rest of the season, and though this latest disappointment has come earlier in the campaign, Guardiola will hope it has a similar effect.

Guardiola was serving a touchline ban as a result of being sent to the stands for complaining to the referee during his side’s defeat to Liverpool in the quarter-finals last season. Mikel Arteta took control, and it appeared that he’d been given a chance to take full responsibility, taking pre and post-match press conferences as well as leading the team from the touchline. Read More

Portugal exit the World Cup with a strange feeling of being better

Two goals from Edinson Cavani lead Uruguay to the World Cup quarter-finals, and sent Portugal home with a strange feeling of being better.

Better than in the previous games, first of all, but the bar was so low that playing more effectively than in the group stage was insufficient to continue in the tournament. And Portugal may have left with the feeling that it was better than Uruguay, that they deserved another outcome, but that was the bitter conclusion reached by many of their opponents in Euro 2016 or this World Cup.

The truth is that Cavani’s first goal, with just seven minutes played, made Uruguay extremely comfortable. Sitting in the armchair, with a beer can in the hand, watching a World Cup match. Óscar Tabárez’s side retreated for the last 30 meters with a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the edge of the area. And Portugal respected this request in the first half: they settled there, in the offensive midfield, but practically did nothing to bother goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

Even with constant exchanges of positions between João Mário, Bernardo Silva and Gonçalo Guedes, the European champions were attracted to the outside and restricted to crosses, which was to Diego Godín and Jose Maria Giménez’s immense satisfaction.

Curiously, it was from a set-piece that Portugal scored the equalizer, at minute 55, with Pepe taking advantage of the fact the Uruguayan duo were more worried about Cristiano Ronaldo.


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