How does one beat Manchester City?
In Manchester City's self-proclaimed "Fourmidable" Season in which they won four trophies, only four teams could boast that they defeated the eventual champions. These teams were Chelsea (2-0), Crystal Palace (2-3), Leicester City (1-2) and Newcastle United (1-2), respectively.
Newcastle were the final team to claim a City scalp before Guardiola's boys went on an incredible 14-match winning streak on their way to securing a fourth Premier League title.
As things stand, Rafa Benitez is the last manager to hand Manchester City a Premier League loss and pull a fast one on the first manager to retain the Premier League title since the great Sir Alex Ferguson himself.
City's players are dynamic, that is, none of them specialize in just one formation, position or tactic.They are all capable of doing a whole lot more in terms of both defense and attack. Numbers speak for themselves as City have lost just six matches in their last 76 fixtures scoring 201 goals in that time frame.
City make it impossible for most teams to even get hold of the ball and when they do, City regain possession deep in their opponent's half because short passing is a risk due to City's high pressing and if you lose the ball deep, there are already three or four City players ready to punish you.
If you try to hit it long with most of your team having had to drop back already, more often than not, your striker will get isolated. Here's where the psychological side of the game comes into play, which is something that is as important as the execution of the actual game plan.
You have to attack City on the break because you can not expect their attack to fizzle out against a resolute defense and hope to regain possession once the intensity of their attack goes down. They will keep hitting you with wave after wave of unrelenting force unless you try and hit them back on the counter.
The mental game
As long as you stay within touching distance of Manchester City's defense whether it be a 1 goal deficit or not, the more the tide of the mental game has a chance of shifting in your favor. The more you believe that you can get some sort of result playing against City, the more you'll push City on the back foot.
You can never allow Manchester City to dominate the mental aspect of the game.
If your opponent has majority of the possession, you will always have space to get behind their defenders. A lot depends on the quality of your players as well. If you don't have a striker with pace, you wouldn't be able to play deep. If you have wingers with pace, then you might be able to manage with a different game plan.
If you can somehow manage to get by City's first wave of pressing, you'll find yourself with a lot space to make inroads into City's half. You need to make sure that when they press, you don't make mistakes.
City are getting stronger every year and they are developing new ways of attacking their opposition. The key to beating City lies in plugging psychological holes much more than just the physical aspect of the game.
That's all for now folks !
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