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Man City vs Liverpool pre-match tactical analysis

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Tactical Preview: Manchester City vs Liverpool pre-match tactical analysis as the two giants gear up for what could be a Premier League title deciding game

Man City vs Liverpool. Pep vs Klopp. Two of the BEST teams and coaches in world football going head to head for the best & most difficult to win title in world football, the English Premier League. BraggsSports will do an in-depth tactical thread, to break down the match-up in this article

Tactical Preview on Man City and Liverpool tactics

Man City build play in a 4-1 shape with unbelievable technicians. Every single player within their midfield and defence excels under incredible amounts of pressure and will kill any teams build-up when on their day. Their goalkeeper alone is one of the best technicians in the world.

Liverpool will attempt to match up in a narrow 4-3-3 shape with the midfield 3 matching up, the wide forwards coming inside onto the CB’s and the fullbacks pushing onto Man City’s fullbacks when pressing as high as possible. The higher up they press, the better it is for them.

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Liverpool are a team who relentlessly play a high line and an offside trap so to achieve that against them of all teams is the hardest possible task in football, particularly when they have elite technical quality and outlets to combine with their unbelievably good press.
But Man City did achieve that at Anfield. That’s partly because of their elite on ball structure but also because of the compactness and aggression within their off-ball shape. The spacing enables them to counter-press but they also have compactness in midfield with the inverted FB.

Man City also press within an elite 4-4-2 (4-4-1-1 when the second striker drops onto the #6) which matches up really well and is conducive to press in all phases of play. So, in short, Man City are elite in every regard, but so are Liverpool and Klopp who have a top record against them.


What Man City hate is when the sustainment of their pressure is prevented. So, for example, this occurs when a team builds through their press or is successful when pressing them or when they lose a 1st/2nd ball duel in midfield or when the opposition get out through their outlets,

And Liverpool excel at all of that and are unbelievably dangerous within all of that. Liverpool can play through the lines and kill you in transition or pin you back and break you down. They can also press to an elite standard, win duels in midfield, hit you on the counter…

Liverpool do it all – to stop that requires perfection. Man City will need to make little to no technical errors because any situation where Liverpool have the ball in settled play, City aren’t in control. City have transitional threats, but they massively prefer to sustain pressure.

Man City can of course score themselves through a settled press or a counter-attack or within situations like that but that’s not the game theme Guardiola wants. Pep wants Liverpool to be pinned back, like they were for large parts at Anfield, but Liverpool won’t accept that.

Both teams can score in so many ways but Liverpool can score in those ways to a better standard. Man City do one thing to the best possible standard in football and nobody can compete with that, but Liverpool are comfortable in any game phase (vs a low block or transition-based).

As such, the theme of the game is absolutely crucial. If it’s transition based and close possession-wise, Liverpool are more likely to win. If Man City pin Liverpool back for large periods, Man City are more likely to win. But, out of those scenarios, what’s more likely?

A combination of both will surely occur, particularly considering that Manchester City’s build-up and general technical quality is so unbelievably good, but Liverpool won’t just lie down and sit back. They will get out, push high, play football, and create an uncomfortable environment.

That’s the key to the game at 0-0, but at 1-0 either way the theme changes massively. If Man City get the first, that’s a nightmare scenario for Liverpool because they’re now playing the best possible technical team and will struggle to get the ball back, but the same applies for Man City.

If Liverpool go 1-0 up, that embodies chaos, transitions, and the exact opposite of what Pep wants, and that’s total control. Liverpool will still press high, build out from the back and be aggressive but even when forced back they are more comfortable as they’re winning.

However, again, I had argue that a 1-0 gamestate in favour of Liverpool is more problematic than it is the other way around. Man City lack goals because of how reliant they are on sustaining pressure. Liverpool don’t have that problem and can score in SO many different ways.

Overall, It’s a razor tight game that could go either way and there’s so many variables in place, but if forced to pick a winner, I had go for Liverpool, and because their style requires less perfection. Man City can certainly score in transition, but in large they want sustained pressure.

But that’s so hard to achieve against an elite technical, tactical and physical Liverpool. Either way, the game is as close to 50/50 as you’re ever going to get. These are two of the best teams the world has ever seen, and the title showdown will showcase how special they are.

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