Aston Villa – Manchester City: Defensive Numbers Not Enough To Shy Guardiola Away From Yet Another Trophy (1-2)

Aston Villa’s defensive system collapsed when two goals in rapid succession stunned Villa, who were then able to climb back up the ladder by pulling one back. Eventually, City simply proved to be too good, as Villa encountered its own strategic issues.
Tactical analysis and match report by Kareem Bianchi.

Following the weekend’s events - Leicester City’s defeat to bottom of the table Norwich, and Liverpool’s first pause of the season against a seventeenth-placed Watford - Aston Villa will probably have felt strengthened as they came into this League Cup final. Somewhat of a mysterious breeze filled the air, as to signify the calm before a storm of which the direction could not be determined. 

Underway off the back of a historical win in Madrid all odds rationally sided with Pep Guardiola’s team, up against the Premier League’s second-to-last side. After the Champions League feat, the manager decided to make changes to his side’s lineup, deservedly resting the European night stars. 

The changes started from goal, where Ederson was replaced by Claudio Bravo. Mendy and Otamendi did not make the starting eleven, as John Stones and Oleksandr Zinchenko were swapped in. Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva also made way for Phil Foden and David Silva, while Raheem Sterling and Sergio Agüero returned to the attack in place of Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez.

Nonetheless, uncertainty followed through, with Aston Villa symbolizing the unpredictable variable. Dean Smith made three changes to the starting lineup that admitted defeat to Southampton. Pepe Reina, Ezri Konsa and Kortney Hause . . .

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