Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

It is too humid in Asia

July 27, 2023 — “You cannot train because of the humidity. We don’t train. We smile, try to do good games and go back to Manchester” - Pep Guardiola

The copy and paste approach to preseason for the teams playing in Asia is one of the reasons I have not been following them as closely as the European teams playing in the United States.

Manchester City being one of the teams playing in Asia.

The majority of the newer ideas will come when they have time to implement them in training when each team returns back home. There will be no time for other teams to adjust or plan based on what they see in preseason because nothing has really changed.

Tottenham has made wholesale changes with a new manager, but even Ange Postecoglou admitted that people should not be paying attention to their shape or selection due to conditioning reasons.

“Wouldn’t read too much into lineups at the moment. Lots of it down to where they are physically, so it’s about putting two elevens out there to put enough in the tank. Not about selecting players based on who will play.”

Figure 1.1

This is the same 3-2-2-3 with a box midfield that Manchester City was using last season. New signing Mateo Kovacic was playing as the 6 in place of Rodri, largely operating in the same way Rodri would.

Nothing too special. Lots of rotation within the squad to get the full 25-man squad involved.

Figure 2.1 - Ederson steps forward to fill in to the left of Ruben Dias.

This isn’t new, but I did notice the higher frequency at which Ederson would involve himself in the buildup as something of an outlier compared to how they normally operated last season.

On almost every possession, Nathan Ake and Kyle Walker would push wide almost to the touchline automatically, and then Ederson would creep forward to form a back four with Ruben Dias.

Figure 3.1 - Ederson moving to the right of Ruben Dias

Ederson would move to either side of Ruben Dias.

Figure 3.1 - Nathan Ake pushes wide and Ederson fills
Figure 3.2
Figure 4.1

Manchester City would normally sit more narrow in their first-phase buildup, with the outside center-backs tucked in, inside the width of a penalty area.

Figure 5.1 - vs Real Madrid
Figure 5.2 - vs Liverpool
Figure 5.3 - vs Manchester United
Figure 5.4 - vs Inter Milan

The far-side center-back would tuck in so the ball-side center-back can remain equidistant from the center center-back.

This is a very micro change, but it stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the same old same old. Not that the same old doesn’t work, it won Manchester City a treble.

Pep Guardiola is one to tinker, and I would not be surprised if he begins to experiment even more once their best 11 play together for 60 minutes. The experimentation will be slow, though, per usual. It can take several weeks for an idea to be trialed.

And each idea, like this one I mentioned, might seem small, but when you put it together with another idea, everyone will take notice.

The problem is that we likely won’t see their best 11 play together in the final Asia Tour match against Atletico Madrid. The Community Shield against Arsenal will be the first real preview of the season.

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