Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Manchester City finally score from the left half-space run

It is a product of Manchester City’s overload on the left, and the way they pass left to right, that the left half-space run is always open. They found the run of Phil Foden against Manchester United and it finally resulted in a goal.

Figure 1.1 - Phil Foden passes to Julian Alvarez as he moves wide.
Figure 1.2 - Phil Foden immediately makes the run into the left half-space after the pass, and Erling Haaland makes a run into the box to drag his defender away from the space.
Figure 1.3 - Julian Alvarez passes to Phil Foden.
Figure 2.1 - Illustration of the potential pass to Phil Foden and cross to Erling Haaland.

I predicted after the Brentford game this type of passing sequence into the left half-space would eventually result in a goal.

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.

Erling Haaland dragging the defender away from the space is key to Foden having the room to drive at the goal.

Figure 1.4 - Phil Foden shoots and scores but the cut-back to Erling Haaland is availble as he holds his run.

With how expert Haaland is at curving and timing his runs to create space, the cut-back is the main danger, not the shot. Haaland holds his run while Lindelof goes to challenge Foden.

Credit to Foden for trying the harder option, shooting. The shot was so well executed, it caught Andre Onana off-guard.

Figure 3.1 - Erling Haaland begins a curved run as Kevin De Bruyne passes to Rodri.
Figure 3.2 - Rodri receives the ball as Erling Haaland completes his run.

As Manchester City slowly work the ball left to right, these little runs to surprise the opposition defense are always happening. If Rodri gets that ball half a second sooner, he could chip a ball over the top and Haaland would have a first-time shot at goal.

Figure 3.3 - Phil Foden receives the pass from Rodri.

But by Haaland making that run, it opens space behind him as he drags defenders into the box. That space is the space created in front of Foden, which allowed him to score Manchester City’s first goal.

Match: Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United, 3 March 2024

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