How Pep Guardiola’s tactics destroyed Real Madrid’s midfield has been explained

Pep Guardiola provided a tactical masterclass to make sure that Real Madrid’s world renowned midfield didn’t have a chance against Manchester City.

No team is as synonymous with the Champions League as Real and for the past decade that dominance has seen them win the title five times.

Yet on Wednesday night City treated the defending champions like they were just a lower league team in the Premier League or a minnow they’d come up against in a Carabao Cup quarter final.

In the first half in particular the English side were absolutely dominant and the visitors were somewhat lucky that Bernardo Silva’s brace were their only goals.

City were so good that they didn’t even need Erling Haaland to be on form, even with Thibaut Courtois having to make a couple of brilliant saves to deny the Norwegian.

Kevin De Bruyne was also far from his best for Guardiola’s side even ending up in an argument with his manager over instructions to pass the ball.

Despite that Real’s famed midfield pairing of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, with 10 Champions League titles between them, couldn’t get into the game.

Now it’s been explained how Guardiola’s tactics completely disarmed the two legends in the middle of the park for Carlo Ancelotti’s team.

“The keys? Stone’s role. And Rodri,” Twitter account Juez Central explained.

“In the defensive phase, Stones was another center back, forming a line of four. But in the offensive phase, Stones was close to Rodri’s position, acting as a double pivot.

“Thus, Rodri was released and could mobilise and have more freedom to play (with the ball in the image). In turn, when Stones went up, the City center-backs had up to six options for the first pass: there was always someone free.

“It was a 3-6-1 in the offensive phase, which allowed City to always have superiority in midfield. Rodri was the footballer who made the most passes (113) and the one who covered the field the most (12 km).”

Kroos did nearly pull his side back into it by crashing a long range shot against the crossbar when they were only one goal down but that was as good as it got.

Modric was taken off for Antonio Rudiger, who arguably should have started the game, before Kroos was replaced by Marco Asensio in a last role of the dice.

In the end nothing that Ancelotti tried got his side close to the Premier League champions, even raising both his eyebrows wouldn’t have helped.

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