Predicting the tactical intricacies of Pep Guardiola is invariably to place oneself on a hiding to nothing. His modus operandi is the unexpected. Come the biggest games of the season there is always the threat that one of football’s greatest minds will go full galaxy brain. Could this at last be where we discover what a false center back is?
Perhaps. But equally if one were looking for signs as to how Guardiola might be successful against PSG one would not have to go far back. After al,l it was only in the spring that City beat their opponents home and away to reach the Champions League final, an ultimately comprehensive 4–1 win on aggregate that saw their manager react impressively to early travails and set in course a system that throttled the Parisians right at the heart of the operation.
The first leg in particular proved to be a masterclass in pressing after Marquinhos’ opener gave an underwhelming PSG false hope in the Parc des Princes. From then out Guardiola switched to a 4–2–4 that was far more effective defensively than it might appear on paper with Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne operating as center forwards whose chief responsibility was to conduct the press, forcing the home side into backwards or sideways passes out to the flanks where the wide forward and full back could win the ball back.
What to Know
We’re heading into Matchday 2 of the Champions League group stage, and Manchester City will be playing PSG at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday, Sept. 28 at Parc des Princes. Man City collected three points with a 6–3 win over RB Leipzig in their previous Champions League match. PSG is coming off of a shock 1–1 draw against Club Brugge. Right now, Man City (three points) leads Group A, while PSG (one point) is in second place in the group. Recall that only the top two teams in the group will advance to the knockout phase.
A win for Man City would keep them securely in first. A win for PSG would put them at least in second place (depending on tie-breaking rules with Club Brugge should they also win).