Champions League bold predictions: Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City shut down PSG, Bayern’s Sane shines, more

The Champions League is again on Paramount+ with a string of mouth watering clashes, headlined after all by the assembly of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City at the Parc des Princes. Let’s check out how that sport and two others would possibly play out:

PSG vs. Manchester Metropolis: Entrance 4 to close down Parisians

Predicting the tactical intricacies of Pep Guardiola is invariably to put oneself on a hiding to nothing. His modus operandi is the surprising. Come the most important video games of the season there’s at all times the risk that certainly one of soccer’s best minds will go full galaxy mind. Might this eventually be the place we uncover what a false middle again is?

Maybe. However equally if one had been on the lookout for indicators as to how Guardiola may be profitable towards PSG one wouldn’t need to go far again. After al,l it was solely within the spring that Metropolis beat their opponents dwelling and away to achieve the Champions League ultimate, an finally complete 4-1 win on mixture that noticed their supervisor react impressively to early travails and set in course a system that throttled the Parisians proper on the coronary heart of the operation.

The primary leg particularly proved to be a masterclass in urgent after Marquinhos’ opener gave an underwhelming PSG false hope within the Parc des Princes. From then out Guardiola switched to a 4-2-4 that was far simpler defensively than it would seem on paper with Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne working as middle forwards whose chief duty was to conduct the press, forcing the house aspect into backwards or sideways passes out to the flanks the place the large ahead and full again may win the ball again.

Manchester Metropolis’s press on PSG drags Idrissa Gueye deeper with no passing choices on for Marquinhos
Wyscout/Sky Sport

On different events PSG couldn’t even get the ball large however had been pressured into giving the ball to Keylor Navas to thump lengthy. When Kylian Mbappe and Neymar are lined up towards your protection there’s absolutely no higher tactic than to make them beat you within the air. Should you’re dragging Idrissa Gueye out of midfield in order that he can provide a go to his goalkeeper in order that the Costa Rican can thump it lengthy all the higher.

Metropolis’s objectives on the Parc des Princes that day might need come from set items — Riyad Mahrez’s sensible free kick following a brief nook labored to De Bruyne, whose cross evaded everybody together with Navas — however each finally dated again to the guests placing the strain on PSG to cede possession within the flanks or nervously punt the ball upfield.

Mauricio Pochettino can have counters out there ought to Metropolis repeat this method. Neymar could have been comparatively reluctant to comply with his midfielders on that night time however he’s not at all times; if Lionel Messi is match his current years at Barcelona have been outlined by him transferring ever deeper to choose up the ball. If he can then flip the likes of Rodri and spot Mbappe forward of him this sport may go quite in another way than final season’s. Although for all this to click on collectively PSG want time with all their stars on the sector, the one luxurious they haven’t been capable of buy after an uproarious summer time. Metropolis, in contrast, know every others’ foibles implicitly.

Whereas Guardiola had usually gravitated again to his favored 4-3-3 system this season — albeit with the notable twist of Gabriel Jesus’ redeployment as a touchline hugging proper winger — what returned on the massive event once more on Saturday when Metropolis wanted a win towards Chelsea? A number of the forged could have modified, Bernardo Silva was now among the many two deeper midfielders, Phil Foden pushed alongside De Bruyne to make room for Jack Grealish on the left, however that very same form was obvious out and in of possession.

Manchester Metropolis’s go community in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Chelsea

As Guardiola makes an attempt to handle what would possibly simply be essentially the most difficult trio of fixtures in soccer — away video games towards the Blues, PSG and Liverpool — it’s laborious to think about he didn’t no less than have a look again on the plan that had served him so nicely on his final landmark street victory. Do not be stunned if he returns to the successful method once more.

Bayern Munich vs. Dynamo Kyiv: Sane scorching streak continues

There could also be few forwards throughout Europe in fairly such a wealthy vein of kind as Leroy Sane for the time being. His help in Bayern Munich’s 3-1 win at Greuter Furth on Friday took his streak of video games with a direct hand in a aim to 6, during which time he has 5 assists and three objectives. It has made for fairly the renaissance for the previous Schalke and Manchester Metropolis winger, who had struggled to excel on a constant foundation in his first season in Bavaria.

For many of that season he performed on the precise of Hansi Flick’s 4-2-3-1, tasked with driving infield on his stronger left foot to make a direct impression on the scoresheet in the identical method Arjen Robben had finished for therefore lengthy. But it was not such a simple match for Sane, who had spent a lot of his early life with Guardiola utilizing him to stretch the play down the left. The tip outcome was 10 objectives and 12 assists in 44 video games, numbers he’s nicely set to eclipse this season now that new supervisor Julian Nagelsmann has returned him to his favored flank.

The distinction this season is stark, even when the pattern measurement is small. Performed off the left in Bundesliga or Champions League video games Sane creates an opportunity each 32 minutes and has a direct hand in a aim, whether or not by scoring or aiding, each 54 minutes. His anticipated objectives (xG) per 90 minutes off the left is 0.69. Within the 120 minutes he has performed on the alternative flank it’s 0.2. That’s barely down on the determine once we embody his performances in 2020-21, the place it reaches 0.28, however the hole between Sane on one wing and the opposite is huge.

Sane’s left wing wizardry

Per 90 stats from 2020-21 and 2021-22 Bundesliga and Champions League fixtures

Left wing

Proper wing

Video games






Possibilities created















Tackle success fee



He could, once in a while, be wanted on the precise flank however even then it appears clear Nagelsmann is not going to punt him out on the furthest reaches of the pitch. After a 7-0 win over VfL Bochum the Bayern supervisor described Similar as somebody he needed to make use of “between being a quantity 8 and a quantity 10, within the half areas the place he can make the most of his unbelievable qualities and along with his tempo”. Within the following win over Greuter Furth he drifted additional into these half areas with Alphonso Davies on his outdoors and appeared no much less efficient than when he was out large. This can be a dangerous second certainly for Dynamo Kyiv to seek out themselves pitted towards Bayern and Sane particularly.

Wolfsburg vs. Sevilla: Targets few and much between

It appears churlish to criticize a crew who’ve been objectively efficient each final season and early on this. Wolfsburg, a shock German entrant to the Champions League after they usurped the likes of Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach in final season’s Bundesliga, are undeniably efficient at what they do. Previous to this weekend’s 3-1 loss to Hoffenheim they had been sitting fairly within the league and even now they sit in third with a welcome early benefit on lots of the groups they’re prone to be vying with come the top of the season.

However they definitely don’t make for entertaining fare for the neutrals. Whereas beneath Oliver Glasner they’d been comparatively attack- minded — fourth within the 2020-21 Bundesliga for pictures and fifth for scoring, albeit ninth within the xG for desk with 10.7 extra objectives than their underlying metrics counsel they must have managed on common — his successor Mark van Bommel seems to be instituting one thing of a grit and grind tradition to the Volkswagen Enviornment. This season solely Mainz have allowed their opponents pictures price a decrease cumulative xG than Wolfsburg’s 5.31. Nonetheless there are 9 groups with extra xG to their title on the different finish.

A high tier protection and league common offense takes you a great distance certainly. Solely Bayern Munich and Mainz have a greater xG differential than Wolfsburg within the Bundesliga. Within the Champions League Van Bommel in all probability wouldn’t be improper to imagine that maintaining it tight is a recipe for fulfillment in a bunch the place a number of of Lille, Crimson Bull Salzburg and Sevilla are extraordinarily able to self inflicted wounds.

Nonetheless it didn’t fairly work within the opening sport, the place Wolfsburg created two pictures and allowed Lille, arguably the worst crew in Group G, to take 17 of them. Unsurprisingly they misplaced the xG battle 0.07 to 1.65 however most of that did come when down a person after John Brooks purple card simply after the hour. When numbers are even it will seem that Van Bommel’s males are fairly the laborious nut to crack. Alejandro Gomez ought to give this protection a superb take a look at however do not be stunned in the event that they fall quick. | Champions League daring predictions: Pep Guardiola’s Manchester Metropolis shut down PSG, Bayern’s Sane shines, extra


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