Let’s analyze why Pep Guardiola’s Man City isn’t working this season. The key is the structure in possession, Guardiola’s 3-2-2-3 had a main strength last season: good space occupation, Haaland pinning the center backs, attract opponents to the zone of the ball holder and switch the play to generate superiority on the other side with a player attacking space, Kevin de Bruyne being the best player doing this.

This season, without the Belgian or Gündoğan, Man City is having a lot of problems getting the attacking midfielders in the right spot in the half-space to fulfill their role. We are seeing how when Manc City is in possesion on one side, on the other, the occupation of spaces isn’t good. Meaning that when the play is switch to that side, there is no player to take advantage of the weakness in-behind, attacking space.

So, a player like Doku, who plays as a left winger, have to play 1v1 situations at high speed. If not, defensive help arrives, losing the advantage.

In addition to this problem, not having players like Gundogan and De Bruyne, and with the opponents understanding this season that they have to defend Haaland 1v1 in many situations to have a +1 in the defensive line, it’s common that in the final third there is no longer the passing lane to move the ball from one side to the other.

Lastly, the problem that Guardiola has in the middle of the field is also seen in the build-up, with the oppents closing passing angles from inside to outside, the full-backs jumping on the wingers, with no threat in-behind, being very difficult to progress the ball.

The positioning and how incisive the attacking midfielders in Guardiola’s box are to generate advantages and switch the play are the key for Man City to return to its best version.

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