Premier League: How Mourinho exposed Pep Guardiola’s 4:3:3 but 3:6:1 strategy: Tottenham 2-0 Man City on the 21/11/2020.
Pep Guardiola’s strategy has mostly gotten the best out of his team. However, on Saturday, Mourinho’s Master class low deep block kept the Spanish coach wondering. Lets get to look on “How Mourinho exposed Pep Guardiola’s 4:3:3 but 3:6:1 strategy.”
Manchester City created the most chances in the game with the majority of them being low quality chances. However, Tottenham created very few chances must of which where high chances created.
The question which still remains is, how did Mourinho do that? What about Guardiola?
Mourinho has always been full of the 4:2:3:1 and yes he was always going to use that (a master of low deep block against teams which play a lot of possession football).
Pep Guardiola however, as usual sticks with his initial 4:3:3 formation but tactically 3:6:1 fluid flow formation.
Manchester City in possession
Man City is full of building up play from the back (especially from Ederson) and it was seen during the early moments of the game. Mourinho’s men however decided to create a low block from the midfield thereby forcing Ndombele and Kane to push upfront as to pressure Man City Center backs in possession of the ball. Manchester City’s Walker stays deep to create a systemic 3V2 advantage. This is not usually the case with Walker as in such situations he usually pushes to the midfield. However, Guardiola instructed Cancelo to be the fullback to push into the midfield, leaving him and Rodri in midfield. This would give Bernardo Silver and Kevin De Bruyne freedom to push upfront as they had a double pivot back-up in midfield.
Guardiola tried to make sure his men occupy all five vertical zones upfront in the pitch when Bernardo Silver and De Bruyne push forward.
However, Mourinho’s masterclass gave him an opportunity to stop the situation as quick as possible. He [Mourinho] prioritized his two attacking forwards consisting of Ndombele and Kane to push back to midfield and pressure the supply of ball back to Man City’s double pivot organs [Cancelo and Rodri].
There were cases when Tottenham’s winger Bergwinj would move narrowly to cover the supply of ball to De Bruyne when he drops deeper. At times, Höjbjerg does the same. On the other side of the pitch, we see the same as Son would perform just like Bergwinj against Bernardo Silver as Sissoko drops to the back line.
That is already a compact back line deep upfront right? How can Man City pass in this case? Now they are left to pass to their wingers. Unfortunately for the wingers the midfield duo of Silver and De Bruyne who were tasked to push upfront to occupy the middle half spaces have become well covered by Mourinho’s men.
Guardiola was left with the long balls option. yes the tried the option but still fail to create major threatening opportunities. At some point, it prompted Cancelo to task risk even while under pressure. This made him a Tottenham press target as we often loses the ball. Rodri was however safe with the ball, but while off the ball, he was a liability. You are a sole Midfielder and there is no reason you should leave that spot and rush upfront because to are trying to create space for your men. As i speak, the space which Rodri leaves behind is exactly the space which Kane occupies, collects the ball then fires up to Son’s decisive runs.
Loose Balls and Lo Celso’s goal?
Of course Rodri does the bad role again. There were cases he would push deep upfront to counter press loose ball. As such Tottenham’s men between the lines would run through Guardiola’s back four unchallenged. This is the case which let to Lo Celso’s goal.
Tottenham in Possession
Mourihno strategized for long balls from Lloris when they intend to play long balls. However when they intend to play short, their two central backs would drop deep into their box as their full back run higher and wide. wide the full backs being the most outlets in Tottenham’s side, Man City midfield began to switch to the wings to anticipate to the ball thereby leaving a gap hole in midfield.
In some cases, Ndombele will drop deeper in midfield. Now, Rodri goes out as bait for Ndombele. Next Kane is free to drop between the lines and receive any chipped ball. Son on his end is pushing the full backs deeper into the box while providing verticality as Kane pushes the ball forward.
Any Counter attack from Man City in Tottenham’s half side mainly lead to a chipped ball to Kane between the lines as the off the ball liability Rodri kept being a liability. This is how Son scored as Kane initiated dropping into Rodri’s midfield position while Son made a partially unchallenged run forward.