With two preseason matches played and two to go, Manchester City are starting to find their form. The 2-0 loss to Manchester United brought more positives than negatives, and anytime you beat Real Madrid 4-1, you’re going to feel on top of the world. With matches against Tottenham and West Ham to come, here are a few things to be on the look-out for:
Which formation will Pep Guardiola favor?
In the match against United, Pep used the 4-1-4-1 system that was the most successful last year. This is the best formation to get all of his attacking players on the field, with five spots up for grabs in the offensive department. However, as was the problem last season, this leaves the defense exposed in a variety of ways. United scored once on a simple ball over the top of the defense, and also on a giveaway in midfield. This is why Pep shifted to a 3-5-2 formation against Real Madrid. City were much stronger in defense and generated attacks quickly and directly. It also allowed Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Agüero to play closer together as strikers, and they looked quick and lethal in the 45 minutes they played together. It will be very interesting to see how Pep lines his men up in the final two preseason matches.
Will more youth players step up and impress?
Youth players are brought on tour in preseason and given their opportunity to show what they can bring to the table. Two academy products have stamped their mark into Pep’s brain this year. Mancunian Phil Foden impressed against Manchester United with his willingness to get on the ball and his lion-sized heart. It was Brahim Diaz who shone the brightest against Real Madrid, scoring an absolute peach of a goal and also running his legs off trying to win back possession. Avid City supporters have heard of Foden and Brahim, but will another youngster engrave his name into our brains?
Who will cement their place alongside Vincent Kompany at CB?
For the first time in a long time, Vincent Kompany is looking fit and healthy. When City have their captain on the field, it completely transforms them defensively and mentally. The big question, though, is who plays alongside him in a center-back pairing. Nicolas Otamendi has looked composed playing with Kompany, and got most of the minutes towards the end of last season. Otamendi is the safe choice, but John Stones needs to play in order to start developing into the future world-class center back he is destined to become. Stones has the talent to lead City’s defense, but there is more for him to learn and improve on. Both have looked solid in preseason, but neither have looked spectacular. However, it all changes if Pep elects to use the 3-5-2 formation, as then both of them will get minutes on the field.