The umpteenth masterclass by Gündoğan and Kevin De Bruyne gives Manchester City victory in the Wembley derby and the 2023 FA Cup.
– Of the initial 11 of the Citizens who will face Inter next Saturday, compared to the one at Wembley the only one that will not coincide unless there are sensational developments will be Ortegagoalkeeper of FA Cup since the beginning of the season and author of constant and excellent performances. Ten Hag, compared to the Premier League final, reinserts Varane in central defense by moving Shaw to the “old” left-back position, filling the central area with setters. Kick off beaten by Gundoganback pass towards Ortega, long range for the aerial duel won by Haaland, on the shot De Bruyne soils Lindelöf’s rebound and favors the tow of the same number 8. The captain concludes the action with a flying outside half from 20 meters on which De Gea can do nothing but appreciate the beauty of the fastest goal in the history of the FA Cup finals. 14 seconds and City are already ahead. The right foot, footballing but figuratively also boxing, stuns United: Rodri touches the post to the right of goal in the 3′, De Bruyne again exploits Akanji’s internal overlap to scare the next free agent Spanish fullback. Not even 6′ on the clock, Wembley hasn’t started breathing normally yet, Ten Hag’s team hasn’t taken the field yet;
– The Red Devils’ strategy is to obstruct the central areas, allowing the City to come back only through Akanji’s leads or diagonal long balls; on the other hand, Guardiola’s 3+2 construction closely resembles (without the same extreme radicalism) the same proposal from Brighton against the same Mancunians in the semifinal of the AmEx Stadium won on penalties, managing to evade the pressure of the regular pentagon with Eriksen as the center of gravity . United’s first sign of life was noticed just before the timeout of the first fraction, with Rashford’s spit tickling the defensive trio, but from the break City started grinding again. De Bruyne, now a finisher and finisher rather than a creator, sends the left-footed shot just wide from the edge of the area on the umpteenth occasion in which he manages to receive in the middle of the space after Bernardo Silva has set the width on the right and succeeded to associate with the movement without the ball of the Belgian. United doesn’t seem to be able to strike but football is like this, even an undeserved episode is enough to play a match in total control for City: Grealish was caught behind by a cross at the far post for the rushing Wan Bissaka, jumping wildly and hitting the ball with his wide arm. Bruno Fernandes displaces Ortega and balances the score. The Boys in Blue don’t deal the KO blow, the Red Devils get up before the referee reaches 10 and resumes rowing, finding some restart towards the end of the first fraction. Last thing to say is Wan Bissaka gets booked without touching Grealish, not exactly a good spot for English referees (satirah);
– A point exclusively dedicated to Kevin De Bruyne it is a must: attacking midfielder at Genk, offensive midfielder at Wolfsburg, all-fielder in the first City and current finisher. From quantity creator to quality finisher, with an ability to explore new areas and pitch heights depending on the function performed. If before the areas between the penultimate and the last defensive line were the end of his passes, now they are the origin, fertile ground for the insertions of him and those of Haaland. It’s not from this game that Fred’s value should be judged, but rarely has a high level player been seen so difficult to understand and follow the movements of who should mark. The conditional is more than ever a must;
– Again De Bruyne to serve the assist, this time from a standstill, again Gundogan half winger from outside the area, this time with a left-footed volley: the second half begins as the first half began, with City immediately making it clear who has more individual quality even in those who have been on the crest of the wave for too many seasons for attract the spotlight of general wonder. Ten Hag tries the Garnacho card around the hour of play, but not before De Bruyne escapes for the umpteenth time and forces De Gea to push back with his feet. As in the first half, City repeats the mistake of managing by limiting themselves to tying the Red Devils on a leash without muzzling them: as the minutes go by, possession passes between United’s feet, with Citizens on the constant who goes there. Foden’s entry brings back security and phosphorus in the management of the ball in Guardiola’s offensive half. De Bruyne and Gündoğan persevered in beating the corridor behind the red half-backs, stressing depth until the 90th minute and keeping United away from their own area. As the much-rounded Sir Alex Ferguson would say, though, “Football, bloody Hell!“: in recovery McTominay exploits an uncertainty of the defense on a cross (Internazionale FC, take notes) and hits the crossbar. Double it had to be, no matter who won, and Double was. With the English hope that it can turn into Treble;
– We don’t feel like calling 2023 Manchester City kryptonite for any team other than 2023 Manchester City, but it certainly is for United seen at Wembley. With the pace lowered by the exhausting Premier League season and the tension of a final, the Ten Hag structure has no possibility of worrying Guardiola’s defensive organization, being able to count on only Rashford at ease in attacking in long shot. To sustain the comparison one must be perfect and the Mancunians, Fred and Varane in particular, were not. Any equal position of City wins the distance confrontation with the cousin (memory memory Casemiro Rodri memory memory), and only the final in Istanbul a week later prevented the dominators of the Premier League from ending the contest early.