Man City: Bayern Victory Shows We've Got Valuable Alternatives At Our Disposal
Last week's extraordinary victory against Bayern Munich sealed an impressive Champions League campaign for Manchester City. The Citizens won every single game bar one this season in Europe; an incredible feat considering they couldn't muster one last season. James Milner's sweet winner at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday equalled Bayern Munich's 15 points total and ended their extraordinary 40 game unbeaten run in spectacular fashion.
What was most peculiar though was that Pellegrini sent out a reserve team. City were without their first choice centreback pairing while key players Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri all missed out. Bayern meanwhile fielded their strongest possible team bar Bastian Schweinstiger and Arjen Robben. After a shambolic start, Manchester City, led by a half-fit David Silva, fought back with James Milner finishing Bayern off with a neat finish. The counter-attacking goals were of sheer class, with Navas running rings around supposedly the best left-back in the world. On the other hand side, Pablo Zabaleta's utterly dominant performance against Franck Ribery was a delight to watch.
Despite the victory being pointless in terms of the position of the group, Manchester City proved that they could compete with Europe's finest and that they should fear no-one when the draws are made. City largely dominated the game with yet another fantastic performance from midfield dynamo Fernandindo and most incredibly, Javi Garcia. The contrast between this game and the earlier tie at the Etihad could not be bigger.
The defeat to Bayern Munich back in October instead highlighted deficiencies in the squad, particularly in midfield where a pure defensive midfielder is still desperately needed. It also highlighted Pellegrini's convinctionist, almost dogmatic beliefs to approaching games. Manuel has almost stubbornly played 4-2-2-2 in big games until now, reaping success against United and CSKA Moscow (to an extent) but then being utterly foiled against Bayern Munich. That's why Tuesday night came as a huge relief for City fans.
Pellegrini preferred to deploy three in midfield against a strong team and it (eventually) reaped dividends. Javi Garcia played the game of his life while Silva played a part in every single goal on his first game back after a month out. David's illustrious performance in the hole should give Pellegrini massive encouragement to deploy the 4-3-3 formation again. Never forget, David is our best player.
The 4-3-3 system has huge advantages and should be considered a viable option more often. It offers a more protective base for your defence and can shore up the midfield against most sides in Europe. While you may argue it tears up the Aguero - Negredo partnership, this formation can bring out the best of City in tough ties - especially on the road. After all Negredo's away performances don't do the system justice.
Alvaro Negredo, for all his brilliance, has only one goal away from the Eithad in the Premier league. Considering Pellegrini plays two forwards away in the hope of out-scoring the opponents, it is potentially catastrophic when Negredo doesn't score. Therefore a more defensive approach is ideal.
Dropping Negredo and pushing Silva into the hole is certainly a mouthwatering prospect. A midfield trio of Yaya Toure, Fernandinho behind David Silva is up there with the very best in the world and it also means Nasri can play on his preferred left hand side and Navas can hug the touchline. As for your strikers, take your pick.
It's increasingly evident with every big game that this formation is incredibly useful if utilised perfectly. A formation that Pellegrini will be likely to pursue if he is to be successful at Manchester City this season.