Beesotted contributors The Gowler and Paul Kowalczyk (@BeesBreakdown) give us the tactical and statistical lowdown of Brentford’s win at the Etihad.
In their last match before the world cup, Manchester City put out a full strength side with Haaland up front coming off an injury. The £52 million striker was no match for the trio of Zanka, Pinnock and Mee, who collectively cost Brentford £3.3 million.
Brentford lined up in a 5-3-2. We’ve seen the Bees use this formation against teams that tend to have higher possession. City lined up in a 4-3-3, but used something like a 3-4-3 in possession. Brentford stayed low and compact when City had the ball in the Bees half, but pressed high when City where building out of the back.
Brentford’s midfielders and centerbacks effectively cut out passing lanes and pressed quickly when City players received the ball in the half spaces. The Bees also did well making it difficult for Halaand to get on the ball. Their formation helped them quickly move the ball forward and win second balls more effectively than City. The Brentford players showed money can’t buy everything and they just wanted it more.
90 + 8
Possession: Manchester City 75% – 25% Brentford
xG: Manchester City 1.87 – 3.19 Brentford
Big Chances: Manchester City 1 – 6 Brentford
Other Brentford stats:
Total Shots: 10
Tackles won: 3 (27%)
Aerial duels won: 20 (48%)
In our match preview Twitter thread we predicted Brentford would set up compactly on defence, try to capitalize on set pieces, and try to win aerial duels on long balls. This is exactly what Brentford set out to do and did an excellent job executing their plan.
Brentford utilized a coordinated press in certain situations while still staying compact on defence and crowding the middle of the pitch. This allowed Brentford to force City to make mistakes and keep the ball away from their best players.
Brentford forced City to play out wide and the Bees did a great job making sure to still provide pressure on the wings. Toney and Mbeumo provided cover for teammates that were pulled out of position. This helped Brentford keep their shape and bend but not break on defence.
Brentford’s transitional defence was well coordinated with everyone knowing their roles.Set pieces and quick counters allowed Brentford to threaten City without giving City the chance to punish them for getting forward.
Brentford only won 3 tackles the entire match, but this was made up for with 9 interceptions, 22 blocks, and 47 clearances. Brentford’s compact shape helped them win second balls and players came up big with winning aerial duels. Toney and Ben Mee were especially excellent in the air. Ben Mee won’t get credit for an assist on the first goal, but he has consistently provided chances for Toney on set pieces this season.
Brentford head into the World Cup break with a huge statement beating a Manchester City squad that just about costs a billion pounds. Gareth Southgate is surely regretting his decision to not include Ivan Toney in his England squad. The headlines will be about Toney’s two goals, but Toney showcased a variety of his talents. Toney was crucial to Brentford’s defence and instrumental in Brentford’s buildup play and counter attacks.