- Matip (77)
- Sterling (12)
Penalties were required to separate Manchester City and Liverpool – the two teams expected to contest the Premier League title – in their first meeting of the 2019/20 season, on this occasion for the FA Community Shield. Regardless of whether this fixture is considered a friendly, both Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp selected strong XIs that went all out for victory, and perhaps a psychological advantage over the team they consider the greatest threat to their domestic ambitions. City went ahead when Raheem Sterling scored for the first time against his former club, but an equalising goal from Liverpool substitute Joel Matip forced penalties. City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo duly became the unexpected hero, saving from Georginio Wijnaldum before Gabriel Jesus scored the winning kick.
Jurgen Klopp set Liverpool up in a 4-3-3 formation both in and out of possession, against opponents whose 4-1-4-1 became a 4-4-2 when they were defending. They very rarely enjoyed spells of sustained possession during the first half, when they struggled to work through Manchester City’s defensive structure. Their only significant threat came in transitions, when Mo Salah looked to move into the space vacated by Oleksandr Zinchenko if the left-back had contributed to City’s build-up play.
City’s defensive 4-4-2 was created by David Silva pushing up to join Gabriel Jesus, a 13th-minute substitute for the injured Leroy Sané, and Rodri pushing up to where Silva had been in central midfield. The City captain and Jesus looked to press Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and single pivot Fabinho; Silva’s pushing up from midfield led to Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne taking responsibility for Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum; wide attackers Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling, who moved to the flank after Sané’s withdrawal, would then press the Liverpool full-backs when the ball travelled wide.
When Henderson was instructed to drop towards possession in the first phase of the build-up, De Bruyne was reluctant to follow him. With David Silva and Rodri already pushing up, De Bruyne following Henderson would have risked leaving a big space between defence and midfield – one Roberto Firmino in particular could have exploited with his familiar dropping movements. Granting Henderson possession deeper represented less of a risk for the City midfield.
Liverpool did look to capitalise on City’s pressing further upfield, again through Henderson’s positioning and in an attempt to get Salah on the ball in more dangerous areas. Penetrative runs from the Liverpool captain beyond City’s defensive line and on De Bruyne’s blindside looked to drag Zinchenko away from Salah, creating numerous situations for the forward to receive and drive inside. He did this repeatedly, but was unable to find a way past Claudio Bravo with a number of shots.
Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain assumed this same responsibility from Henderson when introduced for the final 15 minutes, but Liverpool were unable to find a winner to back up Joel Matip’s 79th-minute equaliser and ultimately paid the price when Wijnaldum’s penalty was saved by Bravo in the shoot-out.
Liverpool set up in a 4-3-3 formation both in and out of possession, with Roberto Firmino in his usual central attacking role and Mo Salah and Divock Origi supporting from wide
Initially, however, Liverpool’s only significant threat came in transitions, when Salah moved into the space vacated by Oleksandr Zinchenko if the left-back had been involved in Man City’s build-up play
The Reds played with minimal distance between their outfield units, but this left space behind their defence for Pep Guardiola’s team to regularly target
When Jordan Henderson was instructed to drop towards possession in the first phase of the build-up, Kevin De Bruyne was reluctant to follow him because it risked leaving space further upfield for Firmino. The City midfield were happier letting Henderson have free possession in deeper areas
Further forward, Henderson looked to run in behind on De Bruyne’s blindside. This in turn created numerous situations for Salah to receive and drive inside from a wider starting point
Manchester City set up in a 4-1-4-1 shape, with Raheem Sterling as the lone striker and Leroy Sané on the left. An early injury saw the latter replaced by Gabriel Jesus, with the Brazilian moving into the central attacking role and Sterling moving out wide
Their 4-1-4-1 shape became a 4-4-2 when City were defending. David Silva pushed up to join Jesus on the top line, with Rodri moving forward to where Silva had been alongside De Bruyne in the centre of the City midfield
City used Claudio Bravo, Nicolás Otamendi, John Stones and Rodri to form a square and build using a four-on-three overload against Liverpool’s front three
De Bruyne’s runs between Andy Robertson and Virgil van Dijk were a regular threat in the first half, particularly when diagonal passes to Bernado Silva drew Robertson out and created space inside
Liverpool’s midfielders were responsible for tracking De Bruyne and David Silva, but they were also often forced to move out to press the City full-backs as well. This made it difficult for Liverpool to prevent City progression, particularly in the first half
Pep Guardiola set his Manchester City team up in a 4-1-4-1 formation in possession. Raheem Sterling started as the lone striker, with Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sané supporting from wide areas until the latter was forced off injured after only 13 minutes. He was replaced by Gabriel Jesus, with goalscorer Sterling moving wide. David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne were used inside as the two attacking central midfielders, with new arrival Rodri making his debut in front of a familiar back four.
The introduction of a new rule – allowing defenders to receive possession inside the penalty area from goal-kicks – inspired City to use Claudio Bravo, Nicolás Otamendi, John Stones and Rodri in a square that worked to create a four-on-three against Liverpool’s front three at the top of their favoured 4-3-3. These overloads were significant in enabling them to consistently progress through the first phase of the press throughout the first half; for the square to succeed, City needed their front three to push as far forward as possible to occupy Liverpool’s defence, ultimately testing the ability of Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum to stop their opposing midfielders.
Liverpool’s midfielders were respectively responsible for tracking De Bruyne and David Silva, but they were also being forced to move out to press Kyle Walker and Oleksandr Zinchenko when either full-back received possession, as they often did during City’s build-ups. Beyond the first-phase, four-on-three overload, City could also create two-on-ones in the second – for example on their right, through Walker or De Bruyne joining Bernardo Silva in attacking Andy Robertson when the other was occupied by Henderson.
Klopp therefore instructed Divock Origi and Mo Salah to screen passes to Walker and Zinchenko – but City’s fine passing range limited their success in doing so, even if aerial balls gave Liverpool more time to press the ball-receiver before they gained possession. De Bruyne’s runs between Robertson and Virgil van Dijk were also a threat, often coming after diagonal passes to Bernardo Silva drew Robertson wide and therefore created space. The following pass in behind for De Bruyne was then accompanied by runs into the penalty area from further attackers.
Liverpool played with minimal distance between their outfield units, but this left space behind their defence, which Guardiola’s team also regularly targeted in a dominant first half. The Reds’ eventual second-half introduction of Joel Matip for Trent Alexander-Arnold, with Joe Gomez moving out to right-back, served to limit these opportunities in behind, but City certainly showed enough threat to suggest they would again be the team to beat in the Premier League this season.