Zonal Marking: Manchester Derby

Zonal Marking takes a look a the tactical battle in the Manchester Derby.

Manchester daily mail

The key issue #1: Nasri’s narrowness



… He did something pretty similar here, and in a match that wasn’t far off 4-4-2 against 4-4-2, he was the only player who varied his positioning to drag opponents around. His clever positioning was in stark contrast to the other wide players on the pitch – Antonio Valencia and Jesus Navas both stayed wide against their full-backs, while Ashley Young endured an extremely difficult afternoon on the left flank, continually conceding possession. Nasri wasn’t playing as a winger, and instead received passes in inside-left positions.

The first impact of this was obvious – in a fast-paced, physical match with two midfield duos against each other, Nasri helped overload the centre and ensured City won the possession battle in the opening stages. Fernandinho and Toure always had an obvious forward pass – Nasri received the ball most frequently from that duo.

The key issue #2: Kolarov’s overlapping

(Sky Sport)

(Sky Sport)

… Instead, City’s dominance of possession meant Kolarov was attacking Valencia, and surprisingly, Valencia performed extremely poorly defensively. He’s become renowned as a disciplined, committed defensive winger – to the extent that he’s frequently been used at full-back – but he repeatedly switched off and allowed Kolarov to run past him.

…Five minutes into the game, Nasri could be seen in a central position, helping City construct an attack down the right. Chris Smalling had no-one to mark, and as the left side of United’s defence became drawn up the pitch, Smalling narrowed his position to help out. This left space for Kolarov to attack on his own down the left flank, and his dangerous cross forced Vidic to head behind from inside the six yard box.

Other points:

City were extremely impressive, but their own formation still doesn’t look entirely cohesive. In the first half, Danny Welbeck and (in particular) Wayne Rooney kept finding space in behind Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, who were excellent at imposing themselves on the game physically and playing good forward passes, but often left too much space behind them. Both players like charging forward, and City have looked vulnerable between the lines this season. It was no coincidence that Rooney was United’s best player – he was simply given too much room.

– Manchester United looked much better when Moyes changed things, introducing Tom Cleverley for Ashley Young, putting Welbeck left and Marouane Fellaini at the top of a midfield triangle, and using Rooney alone upfront. They retained the ball better in midfield and attacked well down both flanks.

– Vincent Kompany had an excellent game, sticking extremely tight to Rooney and preventing the forward from turning. But United could have exploited Kompany’s advanced positioning with some runs in behind him – when United used to play away fixtures like this on the counter-attack under Sir Alex Ferguson, they sometimes used Rooney as a false nine and had midfielders sprinting past him into the space he created. Indeed, that was the entire point of their gameplan. Pulling Kompany 15 yards out of his defence isn’t particularly bad for the opposition – that’s where he’s weakest, when forced to turn and sprint – but United seemed to lack the intelligence to make the most of this situation.

Source: Zonal Marking 


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One Comment on “Zonal Marking: Manchester Derby”

  1. mohdaslamsuhaili September 24, 2013 at 1:21 am #

    Reblogged this on mohdaslamsuhaili.

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