The rivalry between these two teams should have been something much more intense, like the “match of the season” or the “early final”, a tight race, not the competition. a gentle practice, just a little sweat like Man City has shown.
Looking back at the situation of IIkay Gundogan entering the penalty area, hitting Eder Militao’s shot to change direction. The ball found the head of Bernardo Silva, who was already standing in the center of the wide penalty area, literally in the middle of a basketball court.
Since when did it become so easy to win a Champions League semi-final? Man City’s attacks are like elaborately staged performances, eye-catching magic shows dazzle and distract us for a street crime gang to take advantage of that opportunity.
So far, we all know that the style of Man City is midfielders and wingers rushing from all directions, constantly passing the ball or sprinting to make opponents gasp. Man City’s squad block rotates from one shape to another, every position moves flexibly and fits together perfectly to unlock the opponent’s defence.
But this season, they don’t need to do that anymore. Man City does not need to play the role of worker bees anymore. Instead of dazzled opponents, Pep Guardiola’s army crushed the opponent with their overwhelming gravity.
This is a concept often applied by basketball analysts to some teams in the NBA. Their top attacking players possess “gravity” to draw opposing defenders into orbit.
Even without the ball, a star’s latent threat can pull an opponent out of position to follow him, opening the void in another dimension. That is the difference called “gravity” or “gravity”. There are many different ways to create “gravity” in football, and Man City is a master of all techniques in this area.
Jack Grealish’s dribbling ability constantly attracts opposition wingers, which is why most of City’s attacks start on Grealish’s flank to pull in at least one player. opponent out of the box. Even when choosing to pass the ball to teammates in midfield, Grealish fulfilled his duty of creating space in the most important area of the pitch.
De Bruyne’s ability to pass the ball from all angles forced the opposing defense to follow the midfielder as he began to dribble into the final third. If he runs into the zone between a full-back and a centre-back, the opponents are forced to chase De Bruyne to prevent him from making the cross. That is also the attraction from one of the most important players in the Man City squad.
And of course we can’t ignore Erling Haaland, who has a “neutron star” level gravity in front of goal. Although he failed to score in the semi-final, his mere presence was enough to pull Real Madrid’s defenders out of their comfort zone, opening gaps for City to create chances. the best.
The “gravity” of those good players created the first 3 goals, opening the door to the final for Man City. On the first goal, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos were both too focused on De Bruyne’s dribble to notice Bernardo moving behind them.
In the second, Grealish’s dribble and De Bruyne’s drift left opened the way for Gundogan to dribble in while Haaland’s menace in the far corner kept Eduardo Camavinga too busy to keep an eye on Bernardo.
In the second half, a group of Man City players created confusion for Real’s defence. Grealish dribbled from the left, De Bruyne once again ran to the bottom and Haaland “pinned” the far post – forcing Camavinga into a foul, and that free-kick resulted in a third goal. The three biggest stars of Man City did not directly score any goals, but the gravity they created tore apart the White Vulture. Remarkably, they didn’t move much at all.
It was Real Madrid, not Man City, who (at least in the first leg) made an impression with dizzying attacking rotations and creative runs. If it was the old version of Pep Guardiola, he would feel very jealous of Real’s performance.
But City have spent this season radically simplifying their multibillion-dollar machine, replacing flimsy mobile components with large, heavy, stationary ones in search of a solution. maximum solidity. Instead of using 1 or even 2 virtual 9s to pull defenders around, they signed a striker who is always ready to “take the bait” within 16m50.
They have arranged mobile wingers to support excellent dribblers, gradually eliminating skillful left-backs to make room for wide-kicking central defenders who can prevent counter-attacks.
Man City this season is no longer moving at the same level as before. Each of their players do their job properly and create “gravity” to complete the task. Man City old version plays more beautiful. Although they already know how they play, everyone has to gape when witnessing the speed of ball deployment, accuracy and complexity that Pep Guardiola requires his students.
However, after many times of disillusionment at the gates of heaven, Man City realized that sometimes they not only make their opponents dizzy but also themselves into chaos. All the players who have to take on too many roles (wrong full-back, virtual striker…) will have to fulfill the basic task: defend or score.
In the spring of 2023, Man City often used 2 formations: 3-2-2-3 when having the ball and 4-4-2 when having to defend. These two systems are easy to rotate and no player has to stray too far from their position. John Stones or Gundogan can move forward or backward a little, Manuel Akanji and Kyle Walker can move forward or backward on the two side corridors.
Only Kevin De Bruyne moves freely through the lines and suddenly penetrates the gaps. 5 defenders keep enough distance to counter-attack, while 5 attacking players mainly stand fixed in the space areas positioned by Pep.
The simplification of the system has allowed City to add more central defenders instead of having to rely on the flexibility of smaller versatile midfielders. The reason it works so smoothly is because the “gravity” of the attackers – Grealish’s dribbling, De Bruyne’s pass and Haaland’s threat in the box – helps stretch opponents’ defences. The way that the whole Man City team does not need to move too much. And each of them is just too good at one-on-one defensive situations.
Guardiola appeared in the second leg in a black suit as if he were attending his own funeral in the old version: a genius coach, but also considered a madman for always thinking too much before big battles. Now, he has changed, has learned to think more simply and find a way with much less headaches and still be able to easily beat a powerful team like Real Madrid.
The players create their own “gravity”, and Man City’s players are the best, most expensive names in the world. If Real Madrid once created their Galacticos, then Man City has now become a super giant black hole thanks to its wealth and outstanding talents to swallow all the stars that are inferior to them.
Even the unpredictability of the knockout stages of the Champions League can only stand against the power of Man City for a while. Sooner or later, Man City will also reach the top of Europe with its terrible “gravity”.