As the final whistle echoed through the cold air of the wonderful port town of Marseille, Pep Guardiola let out a scream of delight over the performance of his team. This was a perfect response to all of those critics who thought that Pep’s days at City were numbered and the team would just slip into an abyss of darkness. The manner in which city demolished Marseille was complete in all aspects. It was reminiscent of Some of the vintage Pep teams at their very best. Right from the start to finish, City never took their foot of Marseille’s throat. This was a footballing lesson of the very highest quality that not many teams in Europe can deliver, even at their very best.
City’s Excellent press suffocated Marseille
The high press right from minute one set the tempo of the game and Marseille never had the chance to even look up and pass the ball. The moment City lost the ball, they were onto Marseille like a hungry pack of wolves sensing blood. City looked much more sharper and assured in the press than they have all season. It seemed like the vintage city were back on display, setting traps, suffocating the opponents and passing the ball around with aplomb. Perhaps the presence of Laporte and his excellence in one on one defending gave City the confidence to press high, fully armed with the knowledge that Laporte would sweep up at the back in case the opponent played successfully through the press.
Sterling on the right might be the answer against low block
The sight of Marseille in a low block would have ruffled the feathers of quite a few City fans. Surely this cannot be a template to play against city. But, as soon as the game began, Raheem Sterling quashed all of those doubts and stretched the Marseille defense and opened up spaces for Gundogan and Debruyne to run into. Sterling on the right was a menace for the Marseille defense all night long. He cut inside throughout the match and displayed wizardry of the highest quality. His twinkling feet and the ability to beat his man both on the outside and inside meant that the defenders were petrified of him. This was what City was missing against Westham and Porto. I feel that sterling in the middle is wasted because you don’t get to utilize his dribbling skills and his ability to stretch the defense, the qualities that make him a world class winger.
Laporte and Dias have the look of a formidable pairing
With Laporte back, City’s Defense looked to be at its most assured. There were a few testing moments, specially from set pieces and crosses into the box, but Dias and Laporte were always there to sniff out the danger. Their positioning in the match was exceptional. They didn’t have to put in a tackle all match, this tells you how well they read the game and took up intelligent positions. Whenever Thuavin wanted to utilize his pace on the counter, Laporte and Dias were there to make those vital interceptions. This seems to be a partnership that complements each other and gives city that steel at the back to go all out on the front foot and win titles at the very highest level.
Excellent Foden ran Marseille Ragged
Foden on the left maintained the width exceptionally well and combined with Debruyne to a devastating effect. The Marseille defenders could not deal with him at all. The amazing thing about Foden is that he is very fast as well, an aspect which people tend to underestimate and pay the price. This is what happened with Marseille today. Foden dropped his shoulder and had the beating of his full back all through the match. His control and touch in tight areas was what proved to be decisive in city unlocking the compact block which Marseille were defending in. His energy during city’s press and his willingness to track back and help Zinchenko throughout the match summed up a performance beyond his age. Foden already looks a player who is complete and ready to take on the world. It was one of his best performances today.