Manchester City is almost certainly through to the Carabao Cup final after a comprehensive 3-1 victory against Manchester United. There’s the return leg, of course, but it seems like the Blue side of the city is way ahead right now.
It was sweet revenge after the reigning champions lost against the Red Devils in the English Premier League less than a month ago.
Pep Guardiola and his men were outplayed back then, which begs the question of what was different this time around? How did the tide change so dramatically so soon?
This post will try to find the answers.
More Possession and Less Efficiency for Manchester United
In the Premier League clash between those two, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had a clear idea of how to beat Manchester City. The gaffer ordered his players to defend deep and give City the ball for large periods of the match.
Such an approach would open a lot of space for the fast forwards of Manchester United and we saw the results. The likes of Martial and Rashford constantly tormented the opposition and create several good chances in each half.
Manchester United had only 28% of the ball possession but plenty of opportunities to score the ball. In comparison, the percentage last night was 43% but the chances were fewer.
Pep Guardiola didn’t fall for the same trap again and Manchester City controlled most of the game, without being vulnerable at the back.
Even when there was a chance for a counter, the Cup holders cynically fouled the opposition. Man City did register 16 fouls during the game which proves that Guardiola learned his lessons. He wasn’t going to let United use the same weapons again.
The First Goal
We can talk about tactics all day long but the first goal in such derbies is of critical importance. Manchester United took an early lead last time those met and it was the other way around in the League Cup.
That completely ruins the strategy of the opponents and puts them under pressure. We saw that clearly last night, as City never looked back after taking the lead.
The harsh reality for Manchester United is that the team is way behind the noisy neighbours right now. Solskjaer did fool them once with some luck and disciplined performance all around the pitch but City is simply better and wouldn’t allow a similar outcome.
It seems unlikely that something will change by the second leg. And yet, you never know in football, so the Red Devils will be hoping for the best.