Manchester City 4-0 Real Madrid | Tactical Analysis

Let’s analyse Man City’s first half against Real Madrid, who qualified for the Champions League final, being far superior.

Manchester City

In possession

Ancelotti’s first problem was City’s superiority in the build-up with 5 players against 4, with Valverde and Kroos in the double pivot, man-marking Gündoğan and De Bruyne. If one of the midfielders came out of position City found the pass breaking Madrid’s pressing with De Bruyne free, as Guardiola placed both midfielders high up the pitch.

The other option was with Gündoğan dropping deep to receive, playing with his back to goal, giving a pass to a teammate to receive with space to progress, leaving Real Madrid a hole in midfield, a problem we have talked about all season in Ancelotti’s pressing.

When City came out of the press and made a quick attack they found superiority against Real Madrid’s back line in a 5v4, although most of the game was played with Real Madrid defending in their own half, not having many transitions.


Real Madrid’s main problem in the first leg was the gap between Alaba and Camavinga, something Guardiola’s side did not exploit enough at the Bernabéu. In this game they did by playing Bernardo Silva wide, forcing Camavinga to come out and defend the Portuguese, with De Bruyne taking advantage to attack the space in behind.


Thus came the opening goal, first Stones and then Bernardo Silva exploiting Real Madrid’s weakness, a gap that was even greater by Ancelotti’s decision to defend Haaland with both center backs, being Alaba unable to help.


When City switch the play to the other flank Grealish was also receiving close to the touchline, giving width, Carvajal too deep in the box, allowing the winger to put in crosses like this one that ended with a great save by Courtois.


The same happens in the second goal, Grealish gets inside the box, Valverde doesn’t chase Gündoğan and with the defence badly positioned, the ball reaches Bernardo Silva to score.

Out of possession

Guardiola made a change from the first leg with Grealish jumping on the center back, instead of marking the right back. This meant Akanji had to play higher up to cover Carvajal, with City closing with Walker, Stones and Rúben Dias.

The Citizens were more aggressive, winning most of the duels, creating a lot of problems to Real Madrid’s build-up, with Benzema having to drop deep trying to generate superiority but City accumulated up to 8 players close to the ball, with Real Madrid unable to have a long possession in the first half hour.

When City had to defend in a mid block they did so in a 4-4-2 shape, with Real Madrid having almost no chances in the first 45 minutes.

City ended up scoring 4 goals to qualify for the Champions League final in one of the best gameplans of Guardiola’s career.

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