Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics


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Haaland and Foden expose Brentford's left half-space weakness

Erling Haaland and Phil Foden exposed the space in the left half-space behind Brentford’s defense, but Manchester City ignored their runs on several occasions. Play the ball into that space and it’s a simple cut-back and tap-in.

Figure 1.1 - Phil Foden run ignored in the 21st minute.
Figure 1.2 - Erling Haaland run ignored a few seconds later in the 21st minute.
Figure 2.1 - Phil Foden run ignored in the 45th minute.
Figure 2.2 - Phil Foden ignored again as he continues his run.
Figure 3.1 - Phil Foden run ignored in the 59th minute.
Figure 4.1 - Illustration of the potential pass to Phil Foden and cross to Erling Haaland.

This is clearly an area that Manchester City identified as a weakness in Brentford’s man-to-man marking on the ball-side. Why make that run that many times if it wasn’t known? It’s certainly obvious.

Play the pass to Phil Foden, he takes it to the byline, preferably pointed towards the near post, not running away from the goal at an awkward angle. Then play a simple cross, across the ground, to Erling Haaland for the tap-in goal on the back-post.

If the ball isn’t played, it doesn’t happen. The ball was played once to Haaland, but the pass led him away from goal, with no chance to perform the cut-back pass to someone central.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to have Kristoffer Ajer moving back, not in line with the rest of Brentford’s back-line. By moving back, he keeps everyone onside. Both Foden, Haaland, and anyone on the far-side have more room to run into the space ahead of Ajer, which might catch the rest of Brentford’s back-line off-guard.

Match: Manchester City 1-0 Brentford, 20 February 2024

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