Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

How Manchester City can prevent a basketball game against Liverpool

Once the ball crosses the half-way line, Manchester City must make immediate physical contact with the man receiving before their second touch. That is one of the ways they will stop the Liverpool match from becoming a basketball game.

Figure 1.1 - Bernardo Silva challenges the man receiving as the ball is played past the half-way line.

When Manchester City get a defender in the back of attacker on that first or second touch, it slows the progression of the play.

It must be the first pass, past the halfway line. Not the second or third pass. The very first pass.

It throws off the timing of the runs of Liverpool’s forwards. It doesn’t affect the wingers as much as it affects the striker when play is halted.

Figure 2.1 - Curtis Jones is allowed time and space to turn.
Figure 2.2 - Time and space to turn into the space.

When you give them space unimpeded those forwards can continue their run at full speed, without breaking stride. It’s more predictable for them to time. They don’t have to hold their run to wait for the challenge.

This is something I noticed after reviewing several matches from this season and last against different opponents, but especially Liverpool.

Counter-pressing, compactness, organization. That all matters but this small detail for me is the most important part of stifling Liverpool’s attack.

It will be worth it for Manchester City to dedicate a player to follow and defend against that first pass. Bernardo Silva is probably the best at knowing when and who to follow.

Pre-Match: Liverpool vs Manchester City, 10 March 2024

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