• Karel L.

Manchester is and always will be blue

Manchester City humiliated United at the Etihad and confirmed once again that there is only one competitive team in town. This result also helps to maintain the 6-point lead over Liverpool.

The analysis

A few days ago when it was announced that Ruben would be out for a long time due to injury I saw many people panic because, to tell the truth, the Portuguese has become a fundamental piece for this team to work so well, however, the reality is that we have options of great quality.

Stones, for example, has had little activity this season, but every game he has started his performance has been wonderful, which is why it was obvious that he would be the one chosen to line up alongside Laporte.

On the offensive issue, I must confess that I was a little worried about the De Bruyne-Bernardo duo, especially because as I have already made clear, they do not always work in the best way, fortunately, today was one of those games where both gave a complete show on the pitch.

Now, when it comes to the forward line the truth is that we have little certainty about who will occupy each position, as normally Phil and Jack rotate quite a lot, although today Foden gave a complete demonstration of how to play as a false 9.

Talking about the match, I must confess that I found Pep's tactics very interesting, because from the beginning it was clear that he wanted to press the opponent from the top, always trying to make them make mistakes, which worked quite well during the 90 minutes.

In addition, something that helped us to recover quickly was that our defensive line played practically in midfield and that gave the midfielders the opportunity to cover many lines of passes at the same time.

Moving on to other topics, I want to talk about Bernardo's incredible game today because although many people think that a player only contributes when he scores a goal, the reality is quite different.

The Portuguese player was attentive all the time and was in charge of covering multiple positions, in fact, many of his movements were just to attract the attention of the defenders and help free both Foden and Kevin, and it is thanks to this that the first goal was scored.

During previous games, I have talked a lot about how comfortable City feels when the opponent presses them because that gives Ederson the freedom to give long passes and between the lines, and today was a clear example of that because while they pressed they left a lot of space behind that was exploited by all our attackers.

Now, during many moments of the match, many people doubted the performances of Laporte and Stones, and I must say that I personally thought they were a pretty solid duo.

In terms of approach, something that was clear to me is that the rival tried to accumulate many midfielders on the pitch to try to steal the ball from us, but that was not even close to working, all the possession was on our side and their goal came from a mistake of ours, so it is clear that their plan was terrible.

Having said that, although I will highlight it again later, I want to talk about how intelligent De Bruyne is on the field because throughout the game the Belgian midfielder understood that he had to position himself behind Fred, as he was clearly the worst defender.

In fact, during many moments he was deliberately positioned between 3 rival players, Maguire, Sancho, and the aforementioned Fred, this with the purpose of receiving free in front of 3 rivals whose defensive skills were clearly lousy and thus have time and space to make the best decision.

Something that must also be considered is the importance of the fullbacks in our system. In the first half, the ball almost never touched Mahrez's feet because Walker always stayed back to defend, leaving the Algerian at a constant numerical disadvantage.

Finally, I want to clarify that in this game I found no negative points, I think the team played in the best way.

However, I do think it is necessary for Foden to always play as a false 9, because the guy is capable of frustrating any defense with his incredible mobility, plus he has an impressive quality that always puts him one on one with the goalkeeper on more than one occasion.

Key moments

The match was marked by 4 important moments.

- 4' De Bruyne's goal: Scoring at the start of the match is always fundamental, which is why it is necessary to highlight this goal. It was also the start of a magical afternoon for the Belgian, who humiliated the opponent and helped prove that this city will always be blue.

- 28' Kevin's second goal: As I said, De Bruyne's game today was wonderful, and this play where Foden was the protagonist turned out to be spectacular, so this moment also deserves recognition.

- 68' Mahrez's goal: To tell the truth, this is a very important moment, especially in terms of morale, because until this moment De Gea was having a very good performance, so scoring the 3rd goal was key to end the hopes of the rivals.

- 90' Mahrez's second goal: This goal was the icing on the cake, a detail that ended a magical afternoon at the Etihad.

Players of the Match

As was obvious, the player of the match was Kevin De Bruyne, as the midfielder humiliated the opponent on multiple occasions.

The Belgian is impressive when he is at his best, and today, for example, he appeared everywhere, touched all the balls, and gave such precise passes (such as the one for Mahrez's first goal) that they almost seemed to be remote-controlled.

The second place is reserved for Foden, as the young English player shows his quality every time he plays as a false 9, it is as if he was born for that position.

Throughout the match, he drove Maguire crazy, who never knew how to defend him.

Finally, there is Riyad, who also scored two goals. The Algerian's contribution was fundamental today and has been so throughout the season, which is why he deserves this recognition.

Post-match reactions

· Pep Guardiola talked about Kevin and the good moment he is experiencing "A little bit [of an injury concern] there, but not a problem. He made an incredible effort playing lots of minutes. He's back at his best." [via @SkySportsPL/@_joebray]

· In addition, our coach acknowledged the great game played by the whole team "If the second-half is not our best, I don't know what we have to do. I'm so demanding but I know my limits, the players' limits. We didn't concede one shot on target in the second-half and United were eight games without defeat..." [via @spbajko]

· Finally, he admitted the seriousness that this match required, unlike others. "In the last years, when we lost against them [Manchester United], we were already #PL champions. Today we play that if we don't win, we have to win all the [other] games to be champion." [via @spbajko]

Who's next?

Manchester City will face Sporting Lisboa next Wednesday, March 9.