In all of Guardiola’s years as coach we have seen him use different shapes. From its classic 4-3-3 in Barcelona based on positional play, to the adaptation at Bayern Munich, going from a team that won the treble under Jupp Heynckes with quick attacks and man-marking, to a team with a careful build-up and a compact structure to control the games, being the role of the full-backs completely different from the one at Barça. Instead of pushing up and overlap, the full-backs moved inside to generate superiorities.
At Man City, although Guardiola tried to implement a similar shape, we saw a back 3 as the main tactical idea. The latest novelty being stepping up a center-back from the defensive line to the middle of the field, playing Guardiola with 4 centre-backs in the Champions League final in 2023.
In the semi-final of the Club World Cup against Urawa Red Diamonds we saw what has surely been Guardiola’s craziest lineup in his entire career. A manager who has always been associated with an attacking style of play, used a 3-5-2 with 4 centre-backs, 3 in the back line with Stones in the middle of the field and without any forwards, being Bernardo Silva and Matheus Nunes the most advanced players.
An example that in addition to the type of players that the coaches use, it’s essential to understand the role they have in the team and the style of play. In this match Man City won having 75% of the possession, scoring 3 goals and with a clean-sheet.