You are here: HomeMatch ΑnalysisEuropean LeaguesMatch analysis: Manchester United - Manchester City

Match analysis: Manchester United - Manchester City

Match analysis: Manchester United – Manchester City

United took control after the first ten minutes and never lost it  

By Athanasios Terzis

The derby of Manchester between United and City was the most important match of 32nd match day. The home side continued their winning streak and despite the fact that they were one goal down they managed to defeat Pelegrini’s team.

united city formations


1st Half: City started excellently but failed to retain control   


Manchester United: United started with 4-3-3. The three men in midfield were Carrick, Herrera and Fellaini, while Rooney was in the centre of attack, Young on the left and Mata on the right. Van Gaal is a coach who likes his teams to dictate possession so United during the defensive phase, show their intention to put pressure high from the very first moment in order to win and keep the possession. They left time on the ball for Kompany the less technically skilled defender as Rooney took up position towards the right and close to Demichelis. As regards dealing with Toure, Fellaini a player with the same characteristics with the Ivorian, took over the responsibility of being close to him all the time. In cases that Fellaini moved forward to put pressure on Kompany, Carrick shifted close to Toure in a form of chain reaction. 


In many cases both Aguero and Milner were in advanced positions. This positioning created a 2 v 2 in the centre of United’s defence. In order to deal with equality, Van Gaal instructed Valencia not to track Silva in deep positions but to stay close to Smalling and Jones. This resulted numbers up with 3 v 2.


When Silva dropped deep, Mata was the player who took over his marking. Even in occasions that City build up on the left, Valencia stayed deep and left Silva under Mata’s or Herrera supervision. In cases that Valencia was dragged out of position, Carrick had to react to compensate for it. So he dropped back close to the central defenders and sometimes dropped between them.  


Finally on the left, Blind stayed close to the side line as Navas stayed also in wide positions. The interesting thing was Young’s effort to force the ball towards the inside when Zabaleta was in possession. Van Gaal wanted the ball to be played in an area where his players were close to opponents ready to intercept the potential passes. Additionally Carrick was ready to provide support to the central defenders if the pass was directed to Aguero or Milner.




As regards the attacking phase, Fellaini took up a position between the lines and towards the left within Zabaleta’s zone of responsibility. This created an overload in the specific area because the argentine was many times between two players. Fellaini together with the contribution of both Young and Blind tried to take advantage of it. 





Fellaini’s advanced positioning forced Toure in deep positions in order to keep an eye on him. However this prevented Toure from having significant contribution in the game as when City won possession the Ivorian was deep enough from being a danger for United. Van Gaal’s team except for the first ten minutes in which City dominated, tried to dictate possession by building up from the back. They took advantage of the spare man in midfield (usually Carrick) due to Toure’s deep position and the lack of synchronization in the application of pressing from City and moved the ball close to the opponent’s box. Then the aim was to take advantage of Rooney’s movements in and outside the penalty area as well as Fellaini’s heading ability within the box.  The last one entered many times the penalty seeking for the crosses of his team mates (2nd goal).        

Manchester City: On the other hand City started with a 4-4-1-1 formation which in many occasions was changed to 4-4-2, both in defensive as well as in attacking phase. Milner together with Aguero put pressure high as Pelegrini wanted to prevent United from dominating possession. Toure took up position close to Fellaini while Fernandinho was close to Herrera. Clichy on the left tracked Mata even in deep positions in order to prevent him from receiving free and creating numbers up in midfield. This reaction created several problems during the second half for City, as Valencia exploited the space behind him. Zabaleta on the right stayed close to the side line as Young used to take up wide positions. As regards the attacking phase, City tried to take advantage of the time on the ball that Silva had in many occasions, as Valencia didn’t follow him deep. Before Mata or Herrera take over his marking, Silva was free for a couple of seconds

City dominated during the first ten minutes mainly through combination play on the left. The first goal came after team work on this side, where Silva received the pass towards the available space and made the low cross for Aguero. United tried to react immediately and take control of the game by keeping possession. The equalizer proved to be crucial as it was scored in the first scoring chance for the home side. This gave them confidence and United improved as time went by. They managed to break through City’s pressing by moving the ball to the free player as Herrera (who moved in deep positions) and Carrick had to deal mainly with Fernandinho in a 2 v 1 situation. At the same time Milner and Aguero couldn’t work in synchronization and close Carrick down.


In cases that City forced De Gea or one of the defenders to make long kicks the ball was directed towards Fellaini. The Belgian won most of the aerial duels and the passes towards him were about 80% successful. After receiving the long pass, the ball was directed to Carrick or Herrera who moved quickly to supporting positions. The second goal came after a long diagonal pass towards Young who made the cross after combining with Blind, while at the same time Fellaini made sure he had taken an effective position inside the box.

By the end of the first half Pelegrini realized that Toure had small influence in the game (due to his low position) and instructed Kompany to take over Fellaini’s marking even when the Belgian was in deep positions. This enabled Toure to move in more advanced position but also resulted a risky 1 v 1 at the back with Demichelis against Rooney.


2nd Half: United continued dominating possession and City couldn’t react  

The second half started with Mangala in and Kompany out. Demichelis took up a position on the right to mark Fellaini, while the Frenchman was positioned on the left. Toure stayed forward in order to contribute more in pressing application. However the synchronization was again bad and Toure was never the player who put a lot of effort during his defensive duties. United had control as they dictated possession and they were one goal ahead. Fellaini continued to work in collaboration with Young on the left while Rooney tried to take advantage of the 1 vs 1 against Mangala. Valencia on the right exploited the space behind Clichy several times. As time went by United seemed the more dangerous team. Pelegrini switched Milner with Nasri  and put the Frenchman on the left while Silva was brought in the centre behind Aguero in a 4-4-1-1 formation. The 3rd goal came after Fellaini had dragged Demichelis away from his zone of responsibility. Mata exploited the space after a combination play which involved Blind and Rooney. Smalling scored the fourth after a free kick and the match was over for City. Lampard’s coming in and Carrick’s forced withdrawal resulted Aguero’s second goal of the game but nothing more for the citizens.

Conclusion: United match after match has gained stability and confidence. Several weeks ago Van Gaal watched his team winning matches without performing well. Now United seems to be in the right path as winning and performing well come together. On the other hand City showed weaknesses in controlling the game and in applying pressing effectively. Therefore they were defeated in another one match away from home. 




Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 April 2015 02:59

3D-logofacebook-logo1youtube-icon TwitterButton

Buy our Soccer Books!

Tactics Manager Software


Soccer Coaching Software to Create your own Professional Looking Training Drills, Tactics, Formations and Sessions

Free business joomla templates