Guardiola dips into his bible to find tactical blueprint for win in Madrid

Manchester City manager reverted to principles he wrote on his whiteboard in 2015 to beat a deeply ordinary Real Madrid

And during a sense the formation he adopted represented a reversion to first principles. After his Bayern had lost 4-1 at Wolfsburg in January 2015, Guardiola blamed himself and wrote what he called his bible on a whiteboard in his office. it had been a really short bible, containing just three key strictures. He would deploy:

This is how you achieve the key aim of post-Cruyffianism, as began in his 2001 memoir La meva gent, el meu futbol: “to fill the centre of the dig in order to play having numerical superiority.” Against a 4-3-3, then, unless there’s a really good reason to try to to otherwise, you field a 4-4-2 – albeit it’s an unorthodox interpretation of that shape, featuring a centre-forward on the left of midfield and two midfielders playing as false nines.

City perhaps lost some counterattacking fluency by fielding Kevin De Bruyne so high and there have been a few of early long balls to nobody, but that supremacy in midfield was achieved and, broadly , City had control, aside from a few of crosses and Isco’s goal, which was the results of three individual errors – which may be mitigated but never entirely eliminated by the tactical framework.

That such care probably wasn’t necessary against such a limited Madrid is neither provable nor, really, City’s issue: win the sport , move on, let the opposition worry about their problems. But Madrid really were dreadful, lacking energy or inspiration, even worse than Barcelona had been away to Napoli on Tuesday.

In fact aside from Bayern and City, none of the superclubs played well within the first legs of their last-16 ties. Liverpool are often expected to enhance but there are major problems elsewhere, some to try to to with transition, some that run far deeper than that. which really is what’s so repellant about the superclub era, albeit the cash came from the purest of sources and was spent in scrupulous observance of monetary fair play regulations: it means clubs like Madrid and Barcelona are often run staggeringly badly with no real consequence, their wealth and standing sustaining them in order that they can come for an additional large slice of the pie the subsequent year. judi bola online

With numerous of the giants stuttering, the competition feels unusually open this year. City would are among the favourites even before Wednesday’s suggestion that they need developed a replacement edge, a less risky means of playing. This, at last, might be their year. And with the ban looming, that might be the best irony of all.