Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City – Tactical Analysis

Manchester United beat Manchester City on their way to returning to being a Premier League contender after a long time.

1st Half

Manchester United


United started pressing quite high, although after the first few minutes they formed a line of 4, with Bruno, Eriksen, Martial and Rashford, which prevented City from being able to build comfortably. If Rodri or Bernardo Silva received the ball, they were always under pressure and with their backs to goal, which prevented City from making any progress. The same happened when the ball came to the wing, as in this play with Mahrez.

Manchester City

In possession

So City had to look for solutions, the first was for Bernardo Silva to go down to find the ball between center backs and generate superiority. Thanks to Bernardo’s movement, Walker was higher up the pitch, receiving the ball with space to progress.

Another solution was Haaland, who was one of the closest players to Ederson to try to get the ball into the opposition half. Ten Hag had planned for Haaland’s movement and from the start of the game Varane was seen marking all over the field so that they could not pass the ball to Erling.

Cancelo, unlike Walker, gave width to the team, and the movements made by Haaland and Varane created space as the gap between Luke Shaw and Wan-Bissaka was too big. The first to try to take advantage of it was Foden and also Cancelo carrying the ball.

Attacking spaces

But the one who best understands these situations in Guardiola’s team is De Bruyne. So he began to attack the spaces by getting behind the center backs, as would be the case of the goal that we will see later.

Manchester United

Attacking transition

When Manchester United recovered in the first half they found spaces, but they weren’t able to execute the counterattacks well, despite the good passes of Bruno Fernandes and the movements of Martial. 

2nd Half


Martial was replaced at halftime for Antony, leaving Antony at the start of the second half as a center forward. That move didn’t work and Manchester City’s best minutes of the match followed thanks to Guardiola’s small tactical adjustments. Walker started to play as another midfielder, in a role so common in City’s right wing. In addition, both Cancelo and Mahrez began to have more mobility, appearing all over the field and the entry of Jack Grealish in the 57th minute for Phil Foden was key to score the first goal of the game..


De Bruyne attacks the space, the United defense that is guarding Haaland leaves free Bernardo Silva and Grealish who heads for the first goal of the match.


With the score at 0-1, Ten Hag decided to give Alejandro Garnacho a chance and the United pieces fell back into place in a logical manner. Antony on the right, Garnacho on the left, Bruno as a playmaker and Rasford as a striker.

The offensive transitions began to arrive and the fresh legs were decisive, Garnacho warned Manchester City with this play.


The equalizer came after a controversial play  in which Rasford is offside but the player who finishes is Bruno. It seems clear that Akanji, who slows down, is conditioned by Bruno’s position to be offside.


3 minutes later in another counterattack, ball to Garnacho who runs down the left flank, 2 United players enter the box with only one to defend and Marcus Rasford scored the decisive goal. Great tactical war in Manchester.

Other Analysis

AnalysisSerie A