Despite never reaching a Champions League final, Manchester City were named as bookies favourites to win the competition ahead of this week’s opening round of group fixtures. Having recently stated that City have “the best players in the world”, Pep stand-in Mikel Arteta may now be regretting those comments, as he watched his team fall to a shocking 2-1 defeat to Lyon in Wednesday night’s fixture at the Etihad.
With Pep having to watch on helplessly from the stands due to serving a touchline ban, it was down to second-in-command Arteta to coach the team. Instead of picking up points, City picked up the unwanted record for becoming the first English team to lose four consecutive Champions League matches. With City looking a mere shadow of their former selves, we analyse the stats to see where it all went wrong.
Looking at position and passing accuracy you would think that City put in a solid performance. Overall, they had 67% of the possession and 89% passing accuracy as opposed to Lyon whose passing accuracy was only 80%. City also won more duels, corners and free kicks, which poses the question of where did the problems arise?
The first problem we’ll look at is City’s inability to convert their chances into goals. They simply were not clinical enough. Out of a total of 22 shots, 8 of which were on target, they only managed to score once. Whereas Lyon were much more impressive in front of goal, they didn’t create as many chances but took advantage of City’s fatal errors to put themselves ahead.
Fatal Defensive Errors
The main problems with City’s performance came in defence. Delph and Fernandinho both made shocking errors that directly led to Lyon’s two goals, and the stats reflect just how poor their defensive performances were. The first goal came from a run of fatal errors, starting with Fernandinho losing the ball in the middle of the park and ending with a poor clearance attempt from Delph. The second goal, again, came from Fernandinho losing possession and Lyon taking advantage.
Lyon had a total of 34 attacks throughout the game, 13 of those attacks came through the middle of the park with 58% threat level and 20 came down the right flank with 42% threat level. Only 1 attack came down the left flank and proved not dangerous. This shows just how poor Fernandinho and Delph were in their respective positions to not be shutting down countless attacks with a moderate threat.
Over the course of the game, City only won 19% of their defensive duels with Delph only winning 2 of the 9 he was involved in.
For a defensive midfielder, Fernandinho’s stats show that he was better going forward than in defence, he gave the ball away far too often and in very dangerous positions. He lost the ball a total of 13 times during the match, 4 of which were inside his own half. This is the highest number of losses made by any of the players during the match. He came in joint second with Delph out of the City players for highest number of losses inside their own half, who also made 4. The only City player who made more losses inside their own half was Laporte with 6.
Going forward he had 2 shots, won 71% of his offensive duels and made the most passes into the final third.
In conclusion, Pep’s absence and a lacklustre home crowd may have contributed to City’s poor performance, but they can’t be fully to blame. In a game that should have been an easy win against a seventh-place Ligue 1 side, their strength in front of goal was poor and defensively they were made to look amateur.