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How Ronaldo + Grealish Fit In | Pep Guardiola Man City Tactical Analysis

Cristiano Ronaldo looks to shock the footballing world, and possibly disappoint many United fans, by joining Manchester City before the summer window closes Ronaldo's has changed his game from his Madrid days but nonetheless, still a fantastic player and would certainly improve Manchester City's team. Many would mention his pressing abilities and how they can have a negative effect but I'd like to think that Pep is tactically astute and has ideas on how to work around pressing effectively with Ronaldo in the side. Today's tactical analysis, we'll look at where Ronaldo and then £100m man Jack Grealish may play in Peps City system based on their most recent Premier League game against Norwich City, in which they won the game 5-0 Tactical analysis credits also to TheMasterMind Site and Juventus Analysis.



Manchester City line up in a 4-3-3 formation. But, Pep's side spend so much time with the ball and we see City transition into multiple shapes. Against Norwich, when building from the goalkeeper, we saw a 2+3 shape which helped City build-up up smoothly. But, as play advanced or if City took possession higher up the pitch, then we could see a 3-1-3-3 or a 2-3-5 shape.

In the game, Gabriel Jesus started out on the right which I found interesting as Ferran Torres started as the number 9, though, Gabriel Jesus is a recognisable striker. As a few predicted, the new signing Jack Grealish started out on the wide left and hugged that flank but with Ronaldo, Cristiano could slot in as a striker in this particular system.



Though Ronaldo is capable of getting in behind defences, especially on counter-attacks, generally Ronaldo looks to receive the ball to feet. In somewhat of a deep-lying style, Ronaldo drops deep to receive, and for City, he can attempt to look for either overlaps or underlaps before making his darting runs to get inside the box. As stated by @TomPearce, Ronaldo became more creative than in his later years at Real Madrid, where he almost solely focused on taking shots. This is partly down to him spending more time with the ball at his feet. As he is coming deeper to receive the ball, by default, he has more space in front of him to release a through ball or direct pass to a teammate. Often, he decides to shoot too, instead of exploring other attacking avenues, but he is still passing more in the final-third than he has done in the past. One element of Ronaldo’s game which has not changed much at all is his defensive contribution. City will have to set up where his attacking partners will have to do the majority of City's early. pressure But Ronaldo of course comes with many benefits like his aerial ability. This can help City be more effective with their use of crosses. Against Norwich, there were lots of central activity and then lots of activity high and wide. We can see how many times they tried to cross the ball into the box and how infrequently they managed to succeed. But with Ronaldo, some of these crosses may have resulted differently.



Grealish had no issue staying wide. In fact, the other City players around him actively played to his strengths throughout the match, getting him on the ball in that wide position whenever they could. It wasn’t the dribbling, foul winning machine that the Premier League has come to know, but it was a much more sensible, creative Grealish instead. As opposed to driving inside onto his right foot and making magic happen centrally, the 25-year-old would wait for the ball to come to him and then play through balls into space for runners like Gundogan or Torres. In other moments, the likes of Dias and Walker would hit diagonal long passes into his feet, where he would then be receiving the ball closer to the box to deliver himself. City played a fair share of diagonal passes. Walker, Rodri and Dias launched these balls into Grealish’s feet time and time again. The England international always received, and always gracefully took Aarons on 1v1 to great success. Had the Norwich man gone touch-tighter, City would not have been able to play these long passes.



After seeing the starting lineups, you would have expected Ferran Torres to play on the right and Gabriel Jesus to play through the middle. But the exact opposite turned out to be true, as the Brazilian fulfilled a dynamic play-making role in the right channel, with Torres as the false nine. This turned out to be a Pep masterstroke. Torres’ movement inside the penalty area was awesome throughout, and continuously created space for the likes of Gundogan and Grealish to find as others followed the Spaniard. This is exactly how Grealish scored his first Manchester City goal. While they relied on switches to the left through long diagonals, City were more meticulous when attacking down the right with Jesus. As though it was something they practised hundreds of times on the training ground, they synchronized a perfect set of passes that always cut open Norwich’s back-line. They used Walker or Bernardo to play an incisive through ball pass into Jesus to run onto, and the speedy Brazilian would then whip one into the box for one of the other attackers to finish. This is how Sterling and Grealish scored their goals, with the Brazilian’s timing of run and the weight of pass before it absolutely crucial to their success. Now with Jack Grealish available off the left, this is where someone like Sterling will flourish as a striker in the side this season.


Read more and full analysis for the Manchester City vs Norwich game here



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