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The final matchday of the UEFA Champions League in group C saw Dinamo Zagreb play Manchester City. The visitors, under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, had already qualified for the knockout stages in the top spot and therefore rotated an already injury-hit squad. For Nenad Bjelica and his Dinamo Zagreb players, only a win would do. Dinamo needed to go all out to win the match and hope the result in the other group match swung their way. The match finished 4-1 to Manchester City, meaning Dinamo squandered any chance of qualifying in second place.

This tactical analysis will investigate how Dinamo Zagreb and Manchester City played via an analysis of match tactics. Specifically, the analysis will include information on offensive, defensive and transitional components of play from each team, as well as other key match events and stats.


UEFA Champions League 2019/20: Dinamo Zagreb vs Manchester City – tactical analysis tactics
Line ups.

Both managers were forced into changes to their preferred Champions League line up. Dinamo Zagreb were without their two first-choice centre-backs and their starting left-wing back. This forced a formation change from a 3-4-3, also known as a 5-2-3, to a 4-4-1-1. For Manchester City, they had the personnel to play their traditional 4-3-3, but, given their first-place finish in the group, City did have the opportunity to start youngsters, Phil Foden and Eric García, whilst also rotating many other players who started in the Manchester derby.

Average positions and formations

UEFA Champions League 2019/20: Dinamo Zagreb vs Manchester City – tactical analysis tactics
Average positions.

Both teams maintained their general shape throughout the match, with Manchester City dominating possession high up the pitch, but offering the positional rotation and flexibility that Pep Guardiola teams are famous for within the rough 4-3-3 shape. Dinamo Zagreb, who struggled to see much of the ball, can be seen playing on the back foot, with the majority of players deep in their own half. Although, Dinamo’s 4-4-1-1 on paper looks more like a 4-4-2 based on average positions, however, the second half changes mentioned below will have impacted upon this.

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