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How Real Madrid, Tottenham provided the blueprint for stifling Manchester City

Natalie Mincher/Sports Press Photo

It has been a tough start to the season for Manchester City. Last week, they exited the UEFA Champions League, losing to a Real Madrid side that was only truly put together a year ago. That shock defeat was followed up by something even more surprising, a 2-1 loss at home to Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Women’s Super League.

Out of European competition and with their FA WSL title hopes already severely dented, Gareth Taylor’s side are in trouble. Even more concerning than the results is the manner in which they were inflicted. Both Real Madrid and Tottenham went in as underdogs, but they won utilizing similar defensive setups to reduce City’s attacking threat.

Opponents know almost exactly how Manchester City will play. Taylor has mostly chosen the same 4-3-3 formation since his appointment as manager in May 2020. Within that setup, the patterns are the same as they were last season. There is, in short, a predictability about this side.

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