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Thread: The Pep Project - Manchester City / October 2016 Update

  1. #26
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    Smashed them! Knew you'd play Yaya after he came back in the fold IRL
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  3. #27
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    Great win. Monaco will be tougher. Watch out for Bernado Silva. You should get two good seasons out of Yaya.

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  5. #28
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    Champions League Qualifier 2nd leg | Monaco away

    Back again finally, and it's the crucial 2nd leg in the final qualifying round of CL. As you might remember, we won at the Etihad through an Otamendi header and probably got just about what we deserved.

    Also you might recollect that we were already decided on giving Fernando a shot, along with Fernandinho, but as we still wanted to mantain (sort of) our 2-3 shape from the back, it meant that one creative outlet had to stay on the bench in order to be a bit more cautious and pragmatic, knowing that a draw would do nicely. As De Bruyne is the player with more of an end product, he might become useful on the counter and as we don't really want to see that much of the ball tonight, Silva only makes the bench.

    So here's our new shape which was specifically designed for this very important game:


    Yeah, I know, it's a bit weird and asymmetrical. So are the 'with the ball' and 'without the ball' projections. But basically the only thing that has changed from the initial 2-3-4-1 is that the DM now doesn't have a forward arrow and the CM, who was an AM before, has.

    Below are the screenshots from our positioning and, on paper, the plan is that the two Fernandos (no. 6 is Fernando, no. 25 is Dinho) switch their advanced positions with the ball, so they sort of do the same when we have possession and the other one always steps in to cover. Of course, both still have to cover quite a lot of ground, so it's a demanding role anyways. Without the ball, it's basically Fernandinho on the same level with KdB, but both a bit deeper in our own half, and Fernando literally stepping in as the 3rd CB in these cases (and on level with the wingbacks further up the pitch).

    In other words, and simply put, Fernandinho while will have forward runs on, but with a more orthodox CM positioning, will hopefully cause that we cannot be hit by a counter too easily, an aim that goes without saying, given our advantage over Monaco. Also, without the ball in our own half he won't be that forward as KdB, otherwise there'd be a huge gap in our shape, with Fernando acting a bit like a CB.


    Just check the relation of no. 6, 17 and 25, otherwise it's the same old story. Especially the upper right corner tells us everything: have another player on the build up and don't commit too many attackers up the pitch as our normal policy would suggest.

    Now the game itself and our key areas:
    • Bravo with long passing - maybe we can fasten a bit our play as there is an argument to be a bit more direct in this game, hopefully catch them on the counter from time to time
    • No 'hold up ball' - again see the first point; if we want some fast attacks, we won't have the possession for its sake, so only our most reliable CM, Fernandinho that is, will have this on (normally in this project, I'd like to have this setting on for all the central players, including CBs)
    • De Bruyne as the 'make or break' player - everybody, apart from Bravo (long), Fernandinho (mixed) and De Bruyne (direct) will have short passing on, while KdB is the only player with through balls and free role on, and Nolito has crossing to add a bit of a variety


    Monaco have Lemar as the central, attack-minded CM, so hopefully Fernando will make his life harder, and Clichy and Zabaleta can cope with the pace and skill of either Bernardo Silva and 17-year old Mbappe.

    And I've actually written everything as I started the game, so this could have easily looked very funny in hindsight, given all the details I provided, had we went out in this leg. But we got it right in the first half.

    Their only real chance was through an individual effort from Germain, but few minutes after this, we had one too, via the unlikely Clichy who somehow even finished his chance succesfully. Further chances came and finally after a well defended corner, De Bruyne was still able to get in a good cross for Aguero who of course scored (after failing in other chances).

    Our tactics were absolutely spot on and Fernando was immense (winning 5 out of 6 tackles), so good that our CBs had hardly to do anything in this first half. We didn't have more possession than them, but still the ball was 32% of time in their third, so everything according to the plan and surely we won't concede three.

    We didn't change a thing going to the second and the game was slowly coming to its end, then suddenly chances came for both sides. Kolarov's freekick was converted through Stones' header and then Germain finally scored after beating Fernando in the process. Poor lad received a yellow too afterwards and ended up with 4 lost tackles in the 2nd and a 6 rating, but I think having him (and his 16/20 tackling) was absolutely vital in this game and I'm glad we utilized our assets well in this game, and we were never in doubt which was a big surprise for me really, considering how I'm still baffled that I play with 2 CBs. It won't be that easy to recreate this sort of performance and as weird as it sounds this is a bit of a drawback as I don't want to set up *this* defensively everytime, but anyway, a nice start to this career and bring on the group stage! (In my negative mind, I was already preparing for the UEFA Cup and aiming to win it, when I saw we draw Monaco...)

    We didn't even have to play some of our best players; Nolito and Clichy and the usual suspect (Aguero) were carrying some injuries in the game so all were replaced, but we managed to even take the piss a bit out of Monaco, given that we ended this game with a left side consisting of Aleks Kolarov and Fabian Delph...



    I'm too tired now but there will be an update of the other qualifying results and the PL which had its 2nd round done without our game. We have Hull at the weekend and its the perfect opportunity to further test our 3-2-4-1, because Gundogan is returning to full training and, on paper, he's best as a CM (with Fernandinho his obvious partner out there). Also, there will be a chance to finally give a run out to Kompany, and Kolarov can return to the starting eleven with his distribution, too. Clichy (and Stones and Otamendi) played this important game mostly because we didn't want to do that much with the ball, and all those three have better tackling than the Serbian.

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  7. #29
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    Can you make it realistic and add all the "Booooooo's" city fans do...they love a Boooo!

  8. #30
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    Well... I haven't had the time to read everything but that tactical stuff is a great read!

    This might lead me to try some tactical stuff on a game in the near future. Just great!

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  10. #31
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    Will you be doing a Tactics pack with them all in ??

  11. #32
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    Premier League 2nd & 3rd round | Hull (A), Burnley (H)

    Merry Christmas everyone!

    It's been a while, but I'll try to cover everything that has happened since then in one update. Hull away awaited us 4 days after that brilliant display at Monaco and we reverted back to the 3CB system which proved to be successful against Swansea in the PL opener. Partly because of this, and partly because it meant some rest for our older fullbacks, Zabaleta and Clichy and also because we had all our CBs fit. So Kompany and Kolarov were back, both were subs against Monaco as we wanted to play our best tacklers, but now was the time to build on Kolarov's ball-playing and creative skills as we obviously planned to be on the front foot for the time being.

    We hoped that Gundogan (poor guy) will be back in contention finally, but he was still one day away from full training, so Yaya kept his place from the Swansea game and we of course had the classic winger rotation since Monaco (Sane, Nolito OUT; Navas, Sterling IN).



    They played pressing from the start, and had attacking/normal mentality throughout the game, so we combined our passing to mixed/long between our best passers from the back (Bravo, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya as ever). The two midfielders had the mixed one and the GK and CB long to beat their press hopefully and then outnumber them with our front five. Also, I switched off the 'hold the ball' option for these defensive players to lose possession because of their press.

    Also, we identified that Navas should probably have Robertson's number as both his pace and dribbling skills hugely outperform his defensive and speed-related ones, so quite a few of those good passers had to go to the right with their passing.

    It was a bit of a madness as after 13 minutes we managed to concede one from Livermore and then score after winning a corner from a Navas chance. Fernandinho passed it to Aguero from a De Bruyne corner and we were level. Then it was some rollercoaster football, with big chances for both sides (mostly set pieces for Hull and some clear-cut Aguero chances for our side), so we had to change something.

    We switched, in the 49th minute, to the more defensive system with two attacking fullbacks and 2 CBs - Fernando on for Toure and Zabaleta on for Silva, so it was basically the same tactics we were so successful against Monaco and had both the Fernandos on. (So I guess you can imagine the shape: Stones, Kompany - Kolarov, Fernando, Zabaleta - Fernandinho - ...)

    Suddenly we were on a roll and finally 'Aguero finished a superb team move' that involved mostly him and Fernandinho. We somehow managed to hold on to our lead, but it was a very poor performance, and thankfully Bravo seems to be quite the opposite to his IRL version in his City tenure.



    I watched Burnley against Everton the other day where they lost 3-1 and they just didn't know what to do with their direct passing towards Lukaku. Now, we don't exactly have a target man like this, but we still focused on this sort of weakness of theirs. They had counters on, so we mixed some short and direct passing, and hopefully won't be caught, and of course attacking mentality at home against another promoted side.

    Still, apart from Kompany, all the remaining 5 back players (incl. Bravo) had direct passing on, hopefully it won't mean some long balls towards Aguero

    Burnley came next after international fixtures, which of course meant fresh injuries for De Bruyne and Fernandinho, but at least Gundogan was back. With the new injuries and the Barca away game just 4 days away - ah, I've missed to post here the CL draw, but will do soon. So anyway, it was time to experiment a bit further.

    I wanted a lone pivot who is not Yaya but not Fernando, who is a tough little fucker, yet solid on the ball. Fernandinho is out, so I tried out Zabaleta there. Pep has IRL done that too already, though with mixed success. Burnley play 4-4-2 and I've already stated that I don't want to use the 3CB system against teams like this, rather have a winger and a fullback on each side to prevent making the opponent easy crossing chances.

    And finally, this was the 'second' 2-3-4-1, in which the right winger is just a false one. Initially, it was invented for De Bruyne who feels more comfortable when he can drift inside, but as he's injured I tried out this for 2 reasons:
    • Lack of scoring chances from our wingers - I was getting a bit annoyed that everything ended up with Aguero as good as a finisher he is, still what if he gets injured? It's very likely either way, and in fact our wingers are a bit too stretched in those attacking positions, so try this first and maybe one day it will be something more close to a 2-3-2-3 thingy.
    • Play a more offensive 'fullback' this time - with Sterling drifting inside, and Zabaleta already occupying this new DM role, let's see how Sane can cope with in this position. Again, something which Pep has already used. Of course, I put him much further on the 'with the ball' maps as I did before (and as Clichy on the other side was), and while he's not a good crosser of the ball (13/20), still a solid option when we combine forwards. He's got nice dribbling, pace and stamina, and of course a lot of ground to cover, but his skillset should do with it. Oh, and he's quite very good at tackling and heading, thus he should cope with Burnley's physicality.


    Everything worked to plan at the start, we were attacking and then Sterling after a nice individual showing scored, so this false winger role seems to work not only with De Bruyne...

    And then Sam Vokes while we were still in the first, equalized out of totally nowhere. They changed their mentality to attacking and suddenly we looked like if our teams would consist of similar talent... Both teams had chances. I tried to have Silva as a playmaker something I didn't try in this game yet, tinkered with the subs (Yaya was the pivot, Zaba back to his position, Navas and Sterling as wingers), but none of the teams could convert their chances. Then of course we lost Sterling for a month with all our subs used and that was it. Our first non-win against a newly promoted side who got thrashed by a shit Everton side whose only win in 4 came against them... Oh, and all that with Bravo as the MotM.



    And if you were wondering, here is our CL group. Quite solid for at least a second place finish and of course we will try and reproduce the IRL performance at the Etihad against Barca...



    Quote Originally Posted by wayupna View Post
    Will you be doing a Tactics pack with them all in ??
    Of course I can if requested, but I think I'll first test them throughout at least this season and then save the most refined ones which I liked the most.
    Last edited by djdusi; 24-12-16 at 05:45 PM.

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  13. #33
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    Well, it was a bit busy and stuff in the past one and half a month, so if anyone's still interested a bit in how this project evolves, I'm here to reassure you that I'll continue with it in the near future. Despite all the IRL "failings" of Pep that is.

    In fact, there have been some very interesting things going on with the current City side, for example the man-to-man approach against Conte (3-4-3 vs. 3-4-3), where City mostly dominated despite the result, or a diamond against West Ham in the cup (5-0, then with the same approach 0-4 loss against Everton...), or the game against Spurs, which was the total opposite of the inverse fixture in autumn etc. And there is some good literature for all of these games so it will be fun to try and reproduce it in the game.

    Oh, and finally, I've just read the 'seuqel' to Pep's Confidential, Pep Guardiola: The Evolution which was another brilliant read and contained some basic knowledge not only about Pep, but also on his (future) work at City, so a good guideline for me nonetheless.

    Cheers, and stay tuned.

  14. #34
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    This is pukka!! Absolutely quality stuff mate. Keep it up! Looking forward to seeing how the season goes.

    Do you genuinely think the CM 01/02 match engine can match the way you intend for your team to play?

  15. #35
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    So you have taken Yaya off the transfer list then?

    Great read this mate, loving the detail.

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