How Pep Guardiola's tactics can put Man City on the front foot and expose Tottenham

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Kevin De Bruyne

Tottenham travel to the Etihad with a 1-0 first-leg advantage over Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Pep Guardiola must mastermind a victory for his side on the night by creating more opportunities in attack if they are to progress to the semi-finals.

Here, we look at the key tactics he may employ.

Click here for Spurs’ key tactics.

DE BRUYNE IN MIDFIELD

The onus is firmly on City to be on the front foot in this encounter. A one-goal advantage, the absence of Harry Kane and the fact that they’re playing away are all factors that will influence Spurs into absorbing pressure and looking to attack on the break.

Pep Guardiola’s side should enjoy even more than the 59 per cent share of possession they had at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and, in order to capitalise on that, they’ll need the play-making ability of Kevin De Bruyne in the middle of the park.

Guardiola was criticised for benching the Belgian for the first leg who then responded with two assists at Crystal Palace.

MORE WIDTH IN ATTACK

With the amount of possession City are likely to have at the Etihad Stadium, they will need to stretch Tottenham’s defence in order to create openings. As such, Guardiola may be tempted to retain the left flank he deployed at Palace on Sunday. Like De Bruyne, Sane was also a substitute for the first leg with Riyad Mahrez preferred instead.

The Germany international would generate ample width down that left side while Benjamin Mendy’s overlapping runs could do the same and ask more questions of Spurs’ defence.

More importantly, the left-sided duo could force the defence to shuttle across, leaving space for Raheem Sterling to exploit on the far side or open up gaps between centre-backs for David Silva and De Bruyne to take advantage of.

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How Mauricio Pochettino's tactics can set up Tottenham to counter Man City

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Moura bagged an excellent hat-trick against Huddersfield.

Tottenham travel to the Etihad with a 1-0 first-leg advantage over Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Mauricio Pochettino will be tasked with getting the better of Pep Guardiola again if his side are to progress to the semi-finals, ending City’s hopes of a quadruple this season.

Here, we look at the key tactics he may employ.

Click here for Man City’s key tactics.

MOURA IN FOR KANE

The scenario is set up perfectly for Tottenham to adopt a counter-attacking strategy. With Harry Kane unavailable, it makes sense to draft in Lucas Moura who scored a hat-trick against Huddersfield over the weekend. The Brazilian’s searing pace plays perfectly into Spurs’ plans to attack City on the break. In the absence of Kane’s link-up play in the final third, Mauricio Pochettino will urge his side to adopt a more direct style.

City must score at the Etihad Stadium and as they commit numbers forward, the mobile duo of Son Heung-min and Moura – complemented by Dele Alli’s presence in support – will be on hand to pounce in the transition.

DIAMOND SYSTEM

In Kane’s absence, Spurs are almost certain to go with two up top but rather than favour a more familiar three-man defence in that set-up, Pochettino might want to consider a 4-4-2 diamond instead. City will be keen on dominating possession and dictating play in the midfield. A diamond would help the visitors contain the likes of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.

Meanwhile, Moussa Sissoko’s presence on the right of midfield should help Kieran Trippier cope with what may be an attacking City left flank should Pep Guardiola bring in both Leroy Sane and Benjamin Mendy as he did away to Crystal Palace over the weekend.

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How a Manchester City dream could be denied and other Tottenham talking points

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Grand ambitions collide on Wednesday when Tottenham Hotspur seek a definitive end to quadruple, or “quintuple” in manager Pep Guardiola’s estimations, talk for hosts Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The London outfit travel 200 miles north emboldened by last week’s 1-0 victory, earned via South Korea forward Son Heung-min’s nimble feet and Ederson’s questionable goalkeeping. This picture, however, could have been entirely different had Argentina striker Sergio Aguero not seen a timid 12th-minute penalty saved by grateful France No1 Hugo Lloris.

For City to still experience historic success come season’s end, they must snap a damaging run of five-successive European losses against English opposition. Spurs, in contrast, have to force home this advantage in the absence of stricken talisman Harry Kane and avoid a third-consecutive reversal at Etihad Stadium:

Here are the talking points as both aim to make the semis for just a second time:

DARE TO DREAM

A tie far from decided awaits this midweek.

Spurs will kick-off safe in the knowledge that if they avoid defeat, progression is theirs. Yet Mauricio Pochettino’s charges have lost six of their last seven away matches, in all competitions, and were hammered 4-1 by their imminent opponents the last time they strode out in east Manchester.

They will also have to manage the psychological trauma of being without skipper Kane because of a rolled ankle caused when challenging England team-mate Fabian Delph last Tuesday.

The 4-0 weekend thumping of relegated Huddersfield Town moved their 2018/19 win percentage up to 70 without him from 10 matches, an intriguing improvement on the 62 per cent recorded with Kane from 39 games.

They’ve also won five of their last six Champions League outings, keeping clean sheets in the previous three.

City’s pursuit of untrammelled success has not been in such peril since an early 2-0 lead was handed to the Championship’s Swansea City during last month’s sodden FA Cup quarter-final.

Raw memories of a 5-1 aggregate humbling by Liverpool at this stage in 2017/18 could provide further trepidation.

Guardiola’s troops, however, have won 24 of 26 home matches this term – drawing none.

They’ve also scored at least two goals on seven of the last eight times they’ve welcomed Spurs to the Etihad.

Centre-back John Stones labelled this challenge on four fronts – of which, likely, defining Premier League meetings with Spurs and Manchester United immediately follow – “the dream” during Tuesday’s pre-match press conference.

Surge past Spurs and it will take another significant step towards becoming reality.

PEP’S PUZZLE

Guardiola’s reputation as a footballing savant ensures scrutiny is rare.

His approach at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, however, merited introspection. Uncharacteristic caution and a questionable decision to start Algeria Riyad Mahrez, among five changes, contrived to produce an unconvincing performance.

The Champions League has generated brutal experiences for Guardiola since 2010/11’s triumph with Barcelona; 2013/14’s 4-0 semi-final home reversal to Real Madrid, Barca’s imposing 5-3 aggregate semi triumph in 2014/15, agonising away goals elimination by Atletico Madrid at the same stage in 2015/16, Monaco’s comeback from a 5-3 round-of-16 first-leg loss in 2016//17 and 2017/18’s aforementioned hammering by Liverpool.

He cannot countenance another indignity being registered in 2018/19.

SPEED MERCHANTS

Seeing a Spurs player on the ball will be a rarer sight than a dry day in Manchester.

City have averaged 64.2-per-cent possession in the Premier League this season, while lost 1-0 in north London last week recording 59 per cent.

Tottenham supremo Pochettino, however, has the perfect weapons to make this characteristic work against the hosts.

Lengthy injury to Kane has left a spot vacant in Spurs’ attack. Lucas Moura filled it with aplomb against Huddersfield, netting a hat-trick.

The Brazilian forward’s searing pace, allied with Son’s, makes the counter-attack a dangerous proposition.

Even one away goal could have an enormous influence on a tie of great significance.

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