United’s only chance to beat Manchester City in the cup final

The Manchester derby is renewed again between Manchester City and…Manchester United This time, it will be the final of the FA Cup, the most prestigious football tournament, at Wembley Stadium in the British capital, London.

Manchester United is looking to save its season by winning the FA Cup for the thirteenth time in its history, while Manchester City is seeking to win the FA Cup for the eighth time.

Manchester United failed to win the title in four of the last five final matches, with the exception of 2016 against Crystal Palace under the leadership of Louis van Gaal (2-1). The team also lost the FA Cup final last year, to Manchester City 2-1.

Expectations are in favor of City, the English Premier League champion, while Manchester United finished the local championship in eighth place, and is the lowest ranked team in the league to play in the FA Cup final since Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 in 2020.

There have been 6 previous occasions of a team finishing 8th or lower facing the same season’s Premier League champions in a cup final – Aston Villa (10th) beat Manchester United 2-1 in 1957, but since then these teams have lost all The five finals with an overall score of 15-0.

Manchester City has not lost in its last 35 matches in all competitions (won 29 and drawn 6) – which is the second longest streak for a first-class team in the history of English football, after Nottingham Forest, which has a streak of 40 matches in 1978.

Manchester City can complete the league and cup double for the third time, something that only Manchester United (1993-94, 1995-96 and 1998-99) and Arsenal (1970-71, 1997-98 and 2001-02) have achieved before. ). The Citizens did so in the 2018-19 and 2022-23 seasons, and could become the first team ever to do so in two consecutive seasons.

United have a chance to overthrow its neighbor Manchester City

In the last match between Tottenham and Manchester City, which was a turning point in Manchester City’s winning of the English Premier League title, City did not pose a great threat despite the victory. But the match had a plan and recipe for any team’s success against City, and Real Madrid did that, and Erik Ten Hag can learn from Carlo Ancelotti and Ange Postecoglou.

The recipe lies in limiting Rodri’s influence, despite City having many offensive keys. In doing so, Tottenham succeeded in depriving City of possession, and depriving Guardiola’s team of its usual rhythm.

Ange Postecoglou pulled off a surprise in that match when he moved away from his usual 4-3-3 formation and switched to 2-3-5 and resorted to creating an increase in the middle and turning it into a forest of legs. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur played deeper with James Maddison’s Pape Matar Sarr, with Heung-Min Son and Brennan Johnson deployed further forward.

In United’s final league game of the season, Ten Hag opted for a similar approach to Postecoglou in a potential dress rehearsal for the FA Cup final. Sofiane Amrabat, Kobe Maino, Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes played in midfield with Amad Diallo and Garnacho on either end of the pitch. The question is whether United’s players have the confidence and technical quality to move the ball as Spurs did forward.

Phil Foden may have swept the individual awards this season, but no City player has quite the influence of Rodri. City’s only three Premier League defeats this season came when the Spaniard was absent.

Rodri had more touches than any player in the league, played more passes into the final third and more progressive passes than any player and finished the season with eight goals and nine assists. All this while doing his usual job of protecting the central defenders and preventing counterattacks by fair or “dark” means by committing fouls.

If Rodri’s influence is limited, City will find it difficult to enjoy their usual dominance, and United will end City’s main source of building play and supplying the attack with balls.

The important decision the United manager will make is whether to appoint a player to mark Rodri man-to-man, but this could result in making room for a defender like John Stones to come out with the ball.

A more sensible strategy would be to ask McTominay or Fernandes to direct the attacks out wide, with one player tasked with pressuring Rodri whenever he receives the ball.

Will Ten Hag leave Manchester United after the cup match?  (__X/@TheUnitedLad) win win winwin

There is more than one point that United must pay attention to. Playing with Bruno Fernandes as a fake striker is an idea that has proven to be a failure, as the player does not have the strength to run in spaces, but rather he is a player who loves possession and passing.

The second positive point for United is the restoration of its defensive solidity. Injuries have forced Manchester United to field 15 different groups in the heart of defence, so United will use their best defensive duo with Raphael Varane and Lesandro Martinez, as United have won four of the five matches they have participated in this season together.

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