Check Chelsea beat Manchester City in the Final. Manchester City and Chelsea faced a battle in the Champions League final, the biggest match of the European club football season. After three meetings this season in the Premier League and FA Cup.
At the start of 2021, Pep Guardiola’s side blew Frank Lampard’s team out of the park at Stamford Bridge to start an unbelievable winning streak. Still, new manager Thomas Tuchel won both the FA Cup semi-final and the reverse league encounter.
All of that would be irrelevant in this encounter, as City was vying for their first Champions League title, while Chelsea was vying for their second.
Chelsea won 1-0 thanks to Kai Havertz’s first-half goal after a tough strategic struggle.
From player selection to systems and formations, there were many intriguing tactical aspects to the game, which we shall examine in this analysis:
Manchester City’s struggles in possession
With 60 percent possession, City saw more of the ball than expected, and they utilized it in an unusual style.
In possession, they switched to a 3-1-3-3 formation, with Oleksandr Zinchenko shifting to the left side of midfield and Phil Foden going to the center.
City had a kite shape in midfield with lkay Gündoan at its base. While the wingers stayed high and wide to pin the opponent’s defense.
The decision to play without a striker raises a crucial question: why did Guardiola choose this system?
Kevin De Bruyne (the purported false nine) had no wide space to drop into with the kite in midfield. Thus he ended up functioning as a conventional striker by standing on the shoulder of the last Chelsea defender. Which limited his influence on the game owing to his lack of time on the ball.
Later, De Bruyne and Foden switched, but the Englishman played very little in the encounter, proving the point about a true striker.
The Belgian international did not have the impact he would have hoped with only 37 touches. Gabriel Jesus, who took his place after his collision with Antonio Rüdiger, managed 22 in exactly half the time.
Of course, as the game progressed, Chelsea’s defense became more profound, and City’s assault became determined, but a pure striker would have been a better fit in this system.
Chelsea’s 5-2-3 midfield block began on the attacking edge of the midfield. Third, but City’s midfielders could drop into pockets of space between the lines and find open passing lanes to receive the ball.
Tuchel’s side countered the City’s structure’s goal of central penetration by sinking into their half in a lower block, compacting themselves vertically and sealing down the spaces between the lines.
As the additional man in Chelsea’s back three, Werner ordered to sit on Gündoan and prevent any passes into him, while Rüdiger was able to mark Bernardo Silva.
Zinchenko was the only ball-progression option remaining after the Portuguese international limited to just 27 touches, and his match-high 109 touches show that he was up to the task.
On the other hand, he failed to generate a single chance in the encounter, while Raheem Sterling, who was further ahead of him on the left, was truly grabbed by Reece James, who made seven effective tackles.
Chelsea could limit any central passes, but anytime City attempted them. They met with the N’Golo Kanté treatment. As the French midfielder put in a series of shifts to shut down his opponents.
Manchester City’s lack of defensive midfielder
Unlike Instagram’s sliders, City did not have a DM in the Champions League final.
It does not take a genius to figure this out, but the main result was that they were quickly caught off guard in transition, thanks to the vast amount of space in midfield. Let’s play a game of “Spot the Defensive Midfielder” to demonstrate this:
Gündoan’s defensive positioning was, predictably, abysmal, allowing Chelsea to profit on the break on multiple occasions.
City frequently had large gaps in midfield in open play, with their German midfielder dragged out of place.
Guardiola’s choice to put on Fernandinho for Silva (who, as previously stated, struggled to make an impact in possession) was a blatant admission of his error. As he put on a defensive midfield even as his team was chasing the game.
Manchester City’s disjointed press
A poor pressing system exacerbated City’s defensive woes, exacerbated by Guardiola’s big-game special lack of defensive midfielder.
The primary flaw was out wide against Chelsea’s wingers, as their front three kept narrow out of possession to press the three Chelsea center-backs in a narrow 4-1-2-3 to counter the 3-2 build-up shape directly.
To deal with the opposition’s wing-backs, City’s full-backs would have to push up.
As a result, the Chelsea attackers were able to isolate the two center-backs and create havoc.
As a result, the pensioners benefited:
Kyle Walker forces to close down Edouard Mendy as he pinged a ball across to Ben Chilwell. Mason Mount left free as a result, so the wing-back absorbed the blow for him.
The City’s defenders were left isolated as John Stones trapped in a no-land. Man’s This is where a certain German forward made a significant contribution to the game.
Chelsea’s striker may have missed a handful of good chances in this game (and throughout the season). But his impact on the game was undeniable in ways that inexperienced eyes may have missed.
Werner left alone with Ruben Dias when Mount received the ball in the build-up to Chelsea’s goal. While Kai Havertz had Zinchenko for company.
With a feint run to the left, the former RB Leipzig man drew his marker away from him. Allowing his colleague to break down the middle and beat Ederson one-on-one.
When the Chelsea defense was under pressure, the German international was a welcome outlet. Eagerly chasing down long balls thrown down the channels. Check Chelsea beat Manchester City in the Final.
Werner’s runs down the channel were crucial even in open play when Chelsea was attacking.
This performance summed up Werner’s time at Chelsea under Tuchel: superb off-ball movement and work-rate, but poor finishing.
Despite this, Tuchel recognizes that his impact in assisting his other strikers (in this example, Mount and Havertz) is so great that he must stick with him even if it means conceding one goal every game.
Before we get into City, it’s crucial to commend Chelsea for sticking to a tried-and-true game plan, responding fast and smartly to their opponents’ actions, and stepping up for such a huge game.
There outstanding performances all around the field, but James and Kanté stood out as clear standouts.
With that stated, it was clear that City squandered its chances in this encounter. There’s no way they could have failed to slice Chelsea open if they had employed their tried-and-true strategy.
Despite doing so in the quarter-final and semi-final, Guardiola couldn’t resist the lure of tinkering in a big game. The installation of a unique tactical strategy may have impacted the players’ performance.
Most people predicted that City would have to shoot themselves in the foot to give Chelsea a chance to beat them, and boy did they do so in spectacular fashion.
Once again, the London club deserves praise for capitalizing on their opponents’ errors, which was a well-deserved victory for them. Check Chelsea beat Manchester City in the Final.