Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Manchester City's slow buildup deep counters Bournemouth's low block

Slow build up deeper to draw the opponent out is the key for many teams who are having trouble with breaking down low blocks. Manchester City showcased this simple method against Bournemouth.

Manchester City’s outside center-backs are very wide in their 3-4-3 diamond, with Bernardo Silva tucked in to right center-mid and Kyle Walker forward at right-wing. That’s normal; they’ve been doing that this season.

There’s no one in this starting lineup that will play a pass behind. That’s not Mateo Kovacic, Julian Alvarez, or Bernardo Silva’s game. It comes down to Rodri to create. Without a player like Phil Foden or Kevin De Bruyne on the pitch, it’s challenging.

If the creators aren’t there, the creation has to come from someone carrying the ball. That someone today is Jérémy Doku. One goal and four assists in the 33rd, 37th, 64th, and 83rd minute. The Belgian phenom becomes the youngest player in Premier League history with five goal involvements in a single game, as well as the youngest player to assist four goals.

Figure 1.1 - Illustration of Manchester City's two modes in possession.

Manchester City had two modes to create and beat Bournemouth’s low block.

  • Quick close-quarters build up in the final third with Rodri as the main creator.
  • Slow build up in the middle third between the center-backs with Haaland and Alvarez making runs behind Bournemouth’s defense.

The slow build up between the center-backs was far more productive to take advantage of the speed advantage that Erling Haaland, Kyle Walker, and Jérémy Doku have on Bournemouth’s back-line.

A midfielder or two would drop to drag Bournemouth in, to the ball, and then those front three would make a run behind.

Figure 2.1 - Bernardo Silva drops to drag a Bournemouth defender back.
Figure 2.2 - Ederson passes forward to Jérémy Doku.
Figure 2.3 - Jérémy Doku one-touch passes to Julian Alvarez, and Alvarez dribbles into the space.
Figure 2.4 - Julian Alvarez dribbling into the space left behind Bournemouth's right center-back.

Both Jérémy Doku and Bernardo Silva draw Bournemouth forward, leaving space behind for Alvarez and Haaland.

Figure 2.5 - Erling Haaland curves his run to the right to attack the pass into space from Julian Alvarez to the left.
Figure 2.6 - Erling Haaland is in on goal.

Manchester City didn’t score from one of these passing sequences, but on several occasions, towards the end of the first half and into the second half, they created high-quality chances at speed.

Match: Manchester City 6-1 Bournemouth, November 4, 2023

Back to top Share on Twitter Email this post Copy link