MARTIN KEOWN: Key tactical battles City must win to triumph over Lyon

MARTIN KEOWN: Manchester City must stick to what they know, beat the back three and take their chances against Lyon… these are the key tactical battles Pep Guardiola’s men will have to win in order to triumph

  • Manchester City face Lyon in the Champions League quarter finals on Saturday 
  • Pep Guardiola’s side are the favourites to overcome the French side in Lisbon 
  • These are the key tactical battles City will need to win in order to progress

Manchester City take on Lyon in the Champions League quarter finals in Lisbon on Saturday night, with Pep Guardiola’s side just three wins away from European glory.

City were expected to take on Italian champions Juventus in the last eight, but their disastrous exit to the French outfit puts Guardiola’s stars in the driving seat to advance to the semi finals.

Sportsmail’s MARTIN KEOWN outlines the key tactical battles City will have to win in order to triumph in Lisbon and move closer to their first major European title.  

Sportsmail’s Martin Keown outlines key tactical battles for Man City to win against Lyon


The top coaches tend to have something up their sleeve for the biggest matches. Against Real Madrid last Friday for Pep Guardiola it was Phil Foden operating as a false nine in the first half, with Raheem Sterling on the right and Gabriel Jesus on the left. 

But City looked better balanced in the second half. Sterling was moved to the left, Jesus to the centre and Foden to the right. It felt a more familiar set-up. 

City played Foden as a false nine against Madrid but looked more balanced in the second half

Less than two minutes into the start of the second half, Kevin De Bruyne played a perfectly-timed through-ball into the path of Sterling. The full back who was supposed to be tracking him, Dani Carvajal, didn’t know what day it was. 

Sterling couldn’t finish the chance but the pictures were suddenly clear for De Bruyne and Co. 


Lyon will try to make themselves compact tonight. They won’t want to give City that space behind their defence. Five times this season City lost to sides playing with a back three/five. 

Twice against Wolves, twice to Manchester United and once to Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final. Lyon used a three/five in both of their last-16 legs against Juventus. Juve controlled possession, just as City will on Saturday night. 

But if Guardiola’s players can move the ball at the breakneck speed they did against Real then I can’t see Lyon being able to live with them. 

They have struggled to get past sides that utilise a back three, losing five times to the system


Sergio Aguero is set to be sidelined again but Gabriel Jesus was magnificent in his high pressing against Real and forced two mistakes out of Raphael Varane. We know City will create chances. 

It’s about whether they can finish them. Jesus has to be ready and at his ruthless best. The chance could come in the first 10 seconds or the last 10, but he has to take it. 

City are without Aguero but Gabriel Jesus has picked up the baton and performed excellently


There is a concern that the Premier League’s players are tired. In the Europa League, Manchester United only found the breakthrough against Copenhagen on Monday when they won a penalty in extra-time. 

Wolves didn’t seem to have the energy to take the game to Sevilla on Tuesday either. But when you’re in possession of the ball, you never feel as tired as when you are out of it. 

City can make Lyon chase after them and confidence should be sky high after defeating Real twice. 

If City make the ball do the work on Saturday, they should tire Lyon out and pick them apart 

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