Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Manchester City Baiting Everton's Press

Manchester City are baiting the press more frequently than they usually do, waiting for the opponent to move before playing the ball forward. This is a good example of a well-executed baited press passing sequence.

Figure 1.1 - Manuel Akanji waits till he is pressed to pass the ball.

No one is dropping, shifting into space; everyone is stationary, waiting for Everton to begin to press Manuel Akanji.

This lack of movement has caused some issues because the City back-line and Rodri aren’t always patient enough to wait for the opponent to press. They will try to force a ball long, which kind of defeats the purpose of baiting the defense into covering every outfield player.

When the bait works, though, it produces they open Everton up. It only takes four passes.

Figure 1.2 - Manuel Akanji passes to Nathan Ake when Beto moves.
Figure 1.3 - Jack Harrison immediately presses Nathan Ake.

Phil Foden is looking for that immediate pass into the channel from Nathan Ake. That opens up space behind him.

Figure 1.4 - Nathan Ake passes to Jack Grealish.
Figure 1.5 - Jack Grealish receives the ball, and Julian Alvarez makes his run forward.
Figure 1.6 - Jack Grealish dribbles inside with the ball.
Figure 1.7 - Jack Grealish plays Julian Alvarez in.

Phil Foden drags Jarrad Branthwaite back, which opens up the space for Julian Alvarez to attack.

Figure 1.8 - Julian Alvarez plays Matheus Nunes in.
Figure 1.9 - Matheus Nunes shoots.
Figure 1.11 - Jordan Pickford saves.
Figure 1.12 - Julian Alvarez's shot from the top of the box goes wide.

Smart from Julian Alvarez to curve around to the top of the box, anticipating the clearance. Nine times out of ten, both of those shots go in.

It’s the flexibility that Julian Alvarez provides, dropping into different parts of the pitch, and rotating with Phil Foden that makes a passing sequence like this possible. I talked about that in this post. Erling Haaland would never be in the left half-space, dragging defenders back to create space for Grealish to carry inside.

Match: Everton 1-3 Manchester City, 27 December 2023

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