Tactic talk – Pep Guardiola’s tremendous use of Benjamin Mendy is menacing
Upon his arrival at Manchester City in 2016, Pep Guardiola got the reality check, which was in most eyes, necessary for him to understand the game here which is different to Germany and Spain.
The Spaniard identified what was wrong in his team and rectified that last summer by spending a fortune to buy three new full-backs. One of them was French left-back Benjamin Mendy, who was bought for a whopping fee of £52m from Ligue 1 club Monaco.
Unfortunately for Manchester City though, Mendy got injured very early into last season and missed most of the games. However, he is back this year, fully fit and raring to make up for lost time.
Here, we take a look as to how Guardiola is making the best use of the left-back:
System of the team with Mendy
Guardiola has gone with the same system with which he won the league and cup double last season. The 4-3-3 formation with high and wide wingers, two No.10s, a No.6 to protect the counter-attacks and full-backs intelligent enough to understand when to underlap or overlap in possession.
With Mendy fit this season, the manager has given a slightly different role to right-back Kyle Walker. The Englishman, who played as a right-sided centre-back for his country in the World Cup, is now more of a reserved full-back on the right. So he doesn’t always make forward runs to support the winger.
However, on the other side, Mendy is right up there, overlapping to give a different set of problems to the defenders. Aymeric Laporte has been deployed as a left-sided centre-back to cover for the forward runs made by the Frenchman.
This way, Mendy is getting to play his role as an attacking full-back, which is his natural trade, and Guardiola is able to compensate that by reserving Walker’s forward movements.
This helps the team in being simultaneously good on the attack and protective of the counter-attacks.
Shown above is Man City’s positional play this season. With Mendy as high as a left-winger, it helps the actual winger to cut inside easily and exploit the space created by the Frenchman’s run outside. The right-sided winger can hold his width up at the same time.
Concurrently, Laporte and Walker are there to stop the channel runs on the counter-attack, with Stones pretty much acting as a sweeper.
This array of movements is nothing but menacing for any defence to deal with. It is a pure tactical genius from Guardiola to make his team play in a system which is close to unbreakable at times. Mendy has made this all possible. A crucial figure? That’s an understatement!