Manchester City Schalke Champions League Tactical Analysis

When Manchester City flew to Germany to play Schalke at the Veltins-Arena for the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie, they managed to scrape through with a 3-2 win in the 90th minute after being 2-1 down. One would have expected a contest of close margins for the second leg. Instead, City turned on the fireworks at the Etihad with a seven-goal avalanche over Schalke.

City won 10-2 on aggregate. Only once previously has a team won by a larger margin in the Champions League knockout stages (Bayern Munich 12-1 Sporting CP in the 2008-09 round of 16). Yet, when Pep Guardiola was interviewed on his opinion of the game, he seemed unimpressed by the performance during the first half hour. Why so?

Assuming Guardiola’s obsessive drive for perfection and high standards never falters, in this tactical analysis we examine how City’s win drew an uncanny resemblance to his invincible Barca days.

Lineups and form comparison

In the first fixture, Guardiola experimented playing Fernandinho as a centre-back who overloaded the midfield in the attacking phase. In this game he chose a full-back, Danilo, to partner Aymeric Laporte in defence. With Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho sidelined by injury, Guardiola showed great confidence starting Oleksandr Zinchenko for this important fixture. Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling were both chosen to start given their impressive form recently.

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