Pep Guardiola Tactics: The Spanish Megamind

Tue 12 October 2021 | 11:30

Pep Guardiola is one of the best coaches in the world, but he has come a long way to get to where he is now. This part will go over Pep Guardiola tactics in order to gain a better understanding of this fascinating trip.

Pep Guardiola had no prior managerial experience at senior clubs before he began his professional career as a manager. Perhaps many are curious regarding 

Pep Guardiola tactics at Barcelona

 or even Pep Guardiola tactics at Manchester City. He started his senior managing career with Barcelona, where he won numerous trophies as a player.

However, Guardiola's first season as a manager at Barcelona (2007-08) was trophy-less. He redeemed himself as a manager within a year, and what followed was an ear of tenacious Barcelona dominance in Europe. Pep Guardiola conducted a series of lectures in his early days as a football coach, some of which were completely theoretical and others from the football field itself. The youthful Guardiola's talk describing his tactical thoughts did not go unnoticed.  

Pep Guardiola conducted a series of lectures in his early days as a football coach, some of which were completely theoretical and others from the football field itself. In the world of football, a young Guardiola's lecture describing his tactical views did not go ignored. Guardiola's tiki-taka style of play was designed to force opponents to concede.

Guardiola's main objective was to play a possession-based, aggressive pressing style, which he perfected during his time as Barcelona's manager; he frequently used the 3-4-3 configuration. 

Dani Alves

 and Eric Abidal were used as fullbacks by Pep Guardiola. He covered the center with Puyol and Pique, and the midfield with Xavi, Iniesta, and Busquets, whose outstanding vision and precision passing broke the tightest of spaces and fed the balls to Messi, who was mostly used as a false nine under Pep.

Pep Guardiola Tactics at Barcelona: How Everything Shaped?

Pep has the character of being a manager who can only win at big clubs, with world-class players and a massive transfer budget, and this is the whole story about Pep Guardiola tactics at Barcelona. Many believe

Pep Guardiola tactics

started here, while there is some truth to that now, it is often overlooked that Pep’s first job in management was in the Spanish fourth division.

Pep won only one of his first three matches in command of Barcelona B, and things looked bleak for a while. However, with Tito Vilanova as Pep's assistant,

Barcelona B

won their Tercera Division group and qualified for the 2008 Segunda Division B playoffs, which they won, ensuring promotion.

To pay tribute to Pep Guardiola's Barcelona club and their unique possession game, which astonished opponents, fans, and analysts alike with its rapid short passes, intelligent movements, and positional interchange. These possession tactics are intended to provide you a closer look at Josep Guardiola's main system of play at FC Barcelona during his managerial tenure, as well as how I used his positional system as a framework to mimic Barcelona's style of play between 2009 and 2011. 

Denying Space Due to High and Early Pressure. By starting

Thierry Henry,

Messi, and Eto'o early and high up the field, they can put pressure on the defenders and make it difficult for the opposition to pass. This sums up Pep Guardiola's tactics at Barcelona: squeezing them out of space and forcing a mistake.

Getting the ball early in the game was plainly part of their plan, and making the most of it was emphasized. Because the wide men don't track back, the opponent full backs knew that if they pushed forward, they'd be unnoticed. When Barca did receive the ball, getting caught out of position and being hit on the counter, especially against players of such speed and quality, was too much of a threat.

The opposition was pinned back, and dealing with the numerous Barca attacks was similar to dealing with a team attacking in the final ten minutes of a game, only more efficiently. If we take a deeper look at Pep Guardiola tactics at FC Barcelona, we would notice in a three-man interchangeable central midfield with Yaya Toure deepest and Xavi controlling, the central midfielders cover if the opposition gets beyond the first wave.

Alves, on the other hand, had improved his discipline and was now a formidable opponent. With his speed and stamina, he'd be a secondary threat, similar to how Messi used to creep inside. Puyol is one of the few defenders that can play both on the ground and in the air. When attacking, the Barcelona team aims to smother the opposition with space and numbers. At the very least, they may try to force a one-on-one confrontation. 

It is not the dribbling skill that allows one to take advantage in most of these scenarios; it is the support and movement that leads the defender's mind to be confused. When Barcelona attacks, the situation is flipped; they rush forward in large numbers, looking for men beyond the three forward men.

Pep Guardiola tactics

were all about rapid and consistent movement, one-touch passing, smart placement, and making the proper runs at the right time. Getting beyond the striker, as well as providing alternatives and interchangeability, are examples. Apart from outstanding passing and awareness, which Barcelona employed to maintain balance and close control, good ball retention is also important. They became an invincible team as a result of these techniques and good organization.

Pep Guardiola

instilled motivation and hard effort in his team, and he sacked anyone who did not fit this description. Out went Ronaldinho, Zambrotta, and Deco, while in came Keita, Hleb, and Alves, as well as a slew of academy graduates to complement the team's already impressive roster. He skillfully utilized transitions in play, implemented assistance and mobility, and provided dynamic to the game, all of which are critical in today's game.

The Journey of Pep Guardiola Tactics at Bayern Munich


Pep Guardiola Tactics at Bayern Munich

is rooted in modern football. Pep Guardiola announced his appointment as

Bayern Munich

manager on January 16, 2013. The Spanish strategist immediately experimented with his many formations in the Bundesliga, winning the league in each of his three seasons; he also won the Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup, as Bayern clinched the treble in 2012.

In terms of points won per game, Pep Guardiola became the most successful Bundesliga manager in history. Bayern Munich, on the other hand, would miss out on Champions League triumph under Pep Guardiola. Guardiola did not have a very good season, as he failed to deliver in the Champions League; once, they lost in the semi-finals to his previous team Barcelona.  

Guardiola called his time at Bayern a failure after his squad was humiliated three times in the Champions League by Spanish heavyweights. Because he had only achieved success in domestic competitions. Pep Guardiola changed the system from 4-2-3-1 to 4-1-4-1, bringing in

Thiago Alcantara

, who had previously played under Guardiola in Barcelona and was familiar with his style of play.

Pep Guardiola Tactics at Bayern Munich was using one holding player in defense, with midfield creators and wingers supporting the center-forward. He brought a high-pressing style to Bayern so that if they lost the ball, they could retrieve it as quickly as possible.

This increased Bayern's dominance in the game, and his strategy enabled Bayern force opponents to struggle on the field, allowing them to regain the ball and launch an immediate attack.  Phillip Lahm was used as a holding midfielder, Javi Martinez as a center-back, and David Alaba as a winger; he has a lot of paces, Kimmich and Vidal in midfield to add pace to the game, and Thiago Alcantara in the center to put the plan into action.

Arjen Robben

and Ribery on the flanks, Lewandowski in his normal false nine position.

All About Pep Guardiola Tactics at Manchester City

On the other hand, Pep Guardiola was unable to live up to his expectations in his first season as City manager, as the club went trophyless in 2016-17. His most successful tenure came in the 2017-18 season, when City won the Premier League for the second time in a row, setting a new record of 100 points. Guardiola's contract with City was extended until 2021 during that year. Pep Guardiola's journey continues in the European competition.

Despite winning seven trophies in England, he could not conquer Europe, indicating that he was a failed manager in Europe. Manchester City, on the other hand, maybe the favorites this season after reaching the quarter-finals. This time, with Guardiola's tenacity, he may prove his naysayers wrong and lead his team to their first-ever Champions League victory. Pep Guardiola does the same, shifting his formation based on the opposition.

Guardiola's preferred formations for Man City are 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, and 4-3-3. They took the initiative, constructed the game from the back, and brought a high press when the ball was lost. Changing things up to help the players around the ball, Selfless Movement creates room for teammates, allowing them to play without feeling rushed. From defense through midfield, a heavy position-based game is played, with frequent and continuous counter-attacks.

Guardiola's primary goal is for the side to get as much possession as possible, and he makes full use of the City game's depth. The defenders are showing remarkable promise, assisting the midfielders tremendously in the development of attacks. As well as strategically positioning players such as Aguero, Sterling, and Jesus in their appropriate places to covert the ball.

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City are flying high after a difficult start to the season and appear to be the most viable title challengers at the moment. The Citizens have won their last eleven games in all competitions and have kept eight clean sheets in the process. Surprisingly, they've gone the majority of their unbeaten run without a natural striker, which makes Pep Guardiola's side all the more strategically intriguing at the moment.

Manchester City have been a joy to watch in recent months, with inverted fullbacks, possession-based games, and plenty of goals. Our most recent tactical analysis of Pep Guardiola and his Manchester City club for the 2020-21 season. Manchester City hasn't had a regular starting eleven this season, as is typical of a Pep Guardiola team. However, a few prominent figures have emerged and a standard configuration amid their recent recovery.

First and foremost, the back-four has become quite settled, exacerbated by Kyle Walker's recent injury. Joao Cancelo has been so impressive that he has kept Walker out of the starting lineup and may do so again once the Englishman is recovered. The Portuguese fullback has been one of City's top players this season, leading the squad in tackles and interceptions. 

He's also had an impact upfront, averaging two opportunities per game, second only to Mahrez and De Bruyne. Aymeric Laporte has been forced to warm the bench with former Bournemouth star Nathan Ake due to John Stones and Ruben Dias' recent performances. Stones and

Ruben Dias

appear to be natural leaders; therefore, City hasn't missed guys like Fernandinho and Kyle Walker as much as they did last season.

Kyle Walker has started twice as many games as City's best left-back, Oleksandr Zinchenko, but that could change immediately, given Cancelo's form on the right and Zinchenko's present fitness. Ederson Moraes has kept his starting spot in goal this season, maintaining eleven clean sheets. In his first season at the club, Ruben Dias, City's most consistent defender, has also been a part of all eleven of those clean sheets.

Rodrigo is finally living up to his Fernandinho promise in front of the back four. Still, he's had a lot of support from his midfield partnership with Ilkay Gundogan, a fantastic ball-playing midfield master. Man City can chop and shift their 4-3-3 to effortlessly convert into a 4-1-4-1, 4-2-3-1, or 2-3-5 with inverted fullbacks as part of the '3' because they have a natural '6', '8', and '10' in their squad.

Kevin de Bruyne, City's finest player, is the natural number '10' in their lineup, and he can play everywhere on the field to help them win the title. Guardiola's front three has been less steady this season, with nine different players occupying the striker role in league matches. Gabriel Jesus has had little impact in his 11 appearances, scoring only two goals.

Guardiola has used a 'false nine' more often than not this season due to his lack of goal-scoring form and City's quality all over the pitch. Ferran Torres, Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, and Riyad Mahrez appeared in the role, and any of them may have been selected in our hypothetical team lineup above. Phil Foden has been getting more playing time recently, but he is still finding it challenging to start more games than guys like Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez, who are always a threat on the wings.

Ferran Torres has had a promising start to life with the Sky Blues, but two goals in 12 league outings suggest the 20-year-old won't remain a striker for much longer. As a result, we've gone with

Bernardo Silva

up front, who can also come in for Kevin de Bruyne in midfield or play on the wing in either position. So there you have it, the players.

Finally, the end time is the last point to consider. When the ball is in the final third of the pitch, to put it another way. The Manchester team's major goal at this point in the game is to obtain the ball inside the box, either through one-on-one scenarios with their wingers or by filtered passes that look for the gap between central and lateral.

For this, the English team is structured 5-3-2, where its two extremes are at maximum amplitude intending to generate intra-linear spaces between the defenders of the rival gang and the two interiors "theoretical," together with the center forward, form a line of five up. The objective is to generate numerical superiority or situations of 1 for 1 with the players of the defensive line of the rival team and to be able to attack the spaces previously described with breaking movements.

Another point to emphasize at this point in the game is the importance of the 3-player line, which consists of the defensive midfielder and two full-backs, who are always in a passing line arrangement to shift the game sideways. to the side, looking for spatial mismatches in the other team.

Let's speak about how City has utilized their players to accomplish a lot of success this season on their way to a Premier League title. It seems almost complicated to discuss City's tactics under Pep Guardiola without mentioning his usage of 'inverted fullbacks.' For the uninitiated, these are players who start at fullback during the defensive aspects of the game but move to center areas during the build-up and attacking phases. 

The main goal of this strategy is to produce overloads in central locations while also stretching the field out. It may appear difficult to fulfill both of those goals at the same time, but City achieves both breadth and centrality through their inverted fullbacks, which is quite simple.

More room opens up in the wide areas for City to exploit as opposition players drift in-field to try to neutralize the influence of players like Zinchenko, Walker, or Cancelo. It's worth noting that, despite the fullbacks' inverted approach, City's wingers tend to stay wide and hug the touchline whenever possible.

Players like Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling are superb space translators, but when they have the ball, they are more likely to creep inside than when they don't. This is owing to the importance of their width, especially during the build-up phases.

Important Thing on Pep Guardiola Tactics at Manchester City: Playing from The Back

Rome was not built in a day, and this is the story of

Pep Guardiola tactics

. Pep Guardiola's sides have always wanted to play out from the back and have done so in various ways over the years. Inverted fullbacks, as previously mentioned, are Manchester City's main tactic of build-up. However, it's critical to go through the other significant players and regions of the challenging game.

With the fullbacks frequently abandoning their wide positions, the middle diamond of Ederson,

John Stones

, Dias, and Rodrigo must maintain possession of the ball. Because the procedure by which the fullbacks invert isn't universal, there must be a period during which City knocks the ball around and allows their fullbacks to gain centrality.

Pep Guardiola is known for his idea that it takes roughly fifteen passes for one team to unbalance the other. The City does not use long passes over the top. Instead, they keep possession of the ball, with all eleven players in continual communication about how to take advantage of open space. Another of Guardiola's beliefs is that no more than two players can occupy the same vertical channel at the same time. In 2018, Jonathan Wilson published a fantastic, tactically difficult article in The Guardian about this. 

The critical assumption is that when one player travels in-field or out wide, another player may need to react by moving in the opposite direction. City's depth in the build-up phases is also crucial, with all eleven players near the ball and in an excellent position to receive if necessary.

Guardiola's players are always aware of the space to exploit their opponents and where the room is based on their teammates' movement. Manchester City has the best passing and possession statistics of any side in the league, as one would expect from a Pep Guardiola team.

This season, they've kept 62 percent of the ball in league games, completing 89 percent of their passes and averaging 634 passes per game. But that hasn't stopped them from adopting a progressive possession strategy, with 36 goals scored in 19 games and the highest shots per game (3.6) in the league.

The Citizens are exceptional at creating chances and making the most of their time on the ball, regardless of how much possession they have in their end. They also stick to their fifteen-pass rule. Three of the top five passers in the league in terms of passes per game (minimum 10 appearances) are City players. Surprisingly, the trio is frequently found in the lowest position on the field (other than Ederson). John Stones, Ruben Dias, and Rodrigo are the players in question. 


Thiago Silva

has made more passes per game (88.4) than Stones, and no other player in the league has a higher passing percentage than the former Everton man this season (94 percent). Ruben Dias is third in that category and fifth in passes per game, while Rodri is the only player outside the top three, trailing Liverpool's Jordan Henderson. All three are outstanding passers and ball progressors, but they are also excellent defenders who can win aerial duels and put their foot in to gain possession back for the Sky Blues.

Aymeric Laporte is possibly the best of all of City's aerial players, but he hasn't been missed much this season due to the presence of the other three. Jorginho or Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, for example, may not provide City with the same kind of presence that Pep Guardiola demands from his number six.

They would have to offer a sizeable aerial company, a certain dynamism in transition, and everything else they offer in the build-up to play under Guardiola. Jorginho is deficient in both areas, whereas Hojbjerg is better in growth but not in the air.

As a result, Rodrigo's position, which Fernandinho previously held, is extremely tough to fill. It must be a player with a diverse set of skills, including on-the-ball intelligence, a keen understanding of how to cover space in transition, and aerial presence. Rodri is one of the few players on the planet who boasts all three of those qualities, so it's no surprise that City chose him over Atletico Madrid in 2019. 

To elaborate on the Spaniard, the critical reason for his lower possession % than Dias and Stones is that he is more likely to attempt a risky, long pass. Despite seven other players trying more each game, no City player has completed more per game. This gives the 24-year-old (yep, he's only 24) another weapon for City, allowing them to go around the opposition's press or spread the ball out more quickly than expected.

A Conclusion on Pep Guardiola Tactics

Since their pricey takeover,

Manchester City

has been one of the most tactically intriguing Premier League teams, and Pep Guardiola's arrival has further added to that.

In fact, all the success in the club can sum up in

Pep Guardiola tactics at Manchester City.

Despite Liverpool's incredible success, finishing second last season was considered as a massive underachievement, and now Guardiola's team is back on top this season. Manchester City could begin to pull away from the rest of the pack if they maintain their impressive unbeaten record in the coming weeks.

Even if they don't, you can expect to see some tactically interesting play, such as inverted fullbacks, significant build-up, and fluid defensive transitions to swiftly regain possession of the ball. Manchester City have improved this season under Pep Guardiola, despite not possessing a natural number nine in the starting lineup for most of their games.

The manager deserves a lot of credit for this, and he appears to be rewarding the club for believing in him enough to offer him a new contract in November. So there you have it! Manchester City's Pep Guardiola's tactical analysis.

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