Champions League final tactics: how Inter can trouble Manchester City
City against a front two
Inters deployment of a front two is not an unknown issue for Manchester City to combat but it is an unfamiliar one. Lautaro Martnez has spells when he cannot score as happened in the World Cup but when he is hot he is hot, and he has scored 11 times in his past 13 games. He will probably be partnered by Edin Dzeko, now 37 but still an effective, intelligent and underrated target man. Romelu Lukaku then offers an unpredictable element from the bench.
Modern centre-backs face a front two only rarely. Against a single striker, one central defender can mark and one drop off as cover; when both have to mark the challenge is different. City faced a front two on eight occasions in the league this season, winning five, drawing one and losing two. Its a small sample size, but it is at the very least intriguing that City kept just two clean sheets in those games (25%), as opposed to 11 in the 30 (36.7%) against sides playing a single striker.
On a more practical level, playing against two central forwards makes it a bigger risk for John Stones to step up from centre-back into midfield. In only one of those eight games did Stones play in his hybrid role, but that was against Southampton in a match City won 4-1 (and in which Kyle Walker replaced him 11 minutes after half-time), which makes it extremely difficult to know how Guardiola may address the challenge. There were 12 minutes plus injury time of Wout Weghorst alongside Marcus Rashford in the Cup final, but the shape of the game and the fact City were protecting a lead means that isnt much of a guide either. It could be that Stones starts at full-back and goes into midfield from there, assuming Federico Dimarco doesnt get too far forward from wing-back. Or it may be that Stones simply operates as a more orthodox central defender.