Here was a match between the most systematic and haphazard teams globally, although the result can be a little surprising. In such a match, you can talk about tactics, schemes, and such things, but it is worth diving into it only in the case of City, as the PSG side was all about individuality.
The game in numbers
PSG scored a goal in the 8th minute: a quick goal gives the Parisians the most comfortable scenario when the opponents have to go out of their way to level the score, and you can safely catch them on the counterattack. In the beginning, Pochettino’s team defended in a 4-4-2 formation, with Neymar as an extra midfielder in defence. It was new to Argentine PSG, so news and betting tips at bookmaker ratings for this team would be even more enjoyable. Still, Neymar got bored relatively quickly, and the Parisians defended with seven men for most of the match in that game.
All the more surprising, City created next to nothing in such conditions. Yes, there was a moment in the 25th minute with two consecutive shots on the crossbar by Jesus and Bernardo, which probably should have ended in a goal, but if Silva scored that moment, the goal might have been cancelled due to offside. And if you take away that moment weighing somewhere in the region of 0.8 xG (which is more than half the xG created), then the Citizens had no worthwhile chances.
How Manchester City organized the play
City used two basic techniques throughout the match: transfers from one flank to the other (logical, given that the Parisians defended with a narrow block of 7 men) and runs behind the back. Such runs did not even require overloading the front line: it was enough to dash behind the back at the right time and receive a cutting pass from the flank, where the Citizens had an advantage for obvious reasons. Hakimi, who was beaten on the wing five times on the dribble, was torn up in this way, which was reasonably expected against Grealish. He was also constantly supported by Cancelo, the shadowy playmaker in this match.
However, it cannot be said that these techniques resulted in killer chances at Donnarumma’s goal: perhaps we can say that City was too focused on these actions and didn’t get as “creative” as usual. It was very disappointing how City reacted to the goal: they were relatively static and monotonous. They spent the entire 1st half in half-time mode (only 52% of possession + 0 shots on goal until Jesus and Bernardo’s moment in the 25th minute, which is quite obscene for Guardiola’s team).
Understandably, Guardiola was cautious and didn’t put as much pressure on the match as he did on Chelsea, but when you need to get back into the game, super intense pressure can help against a team like PSG.
You can’t say that PSG deserved to win this match. Still, the defence wasn’t perfect, with no clear goal scoring chances either (0 clear goals). But given the level of the players, you can always count on a couple of non-obvious goals. On the other hand, Manchester City didn’t convince at all, acting passively and creating few chances, given the level of the opponent’s defence.
But it’s worth noting that PSG can only claim to win the Champions League if they are fortunate, and you shouldn’t expect them to be successful in this tournament: anything can happen, given the haphazardness of this team. City has yet to show a championship level of play this season, but that’s not necessarily the case at this stage of the season, as we’ve seen from last season.
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