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Talking Tactics

De Bruyne and Maddison duel to be decisive

Adrian Clarke 19 Dec 2019
De Bruyne Maddison composite wide

Adrian Clarke says Saturday's contest between Man City and Leicester could come down to which playmaker is more influential

Adrian Clarke is looking at key tactical points ahead of Matchweek 18. 

Having produced 87 Premier League goals between them already this season, Saturday’s match between Manchester City and Leicester City promises to be a carnival of quality attacking football.

One of the most eye-catching duels will be between playmakers Kevin De Bruyne and James Maddison.

Both are enjoying tremendous campaigns and their respective performances are likely to heavily influence the result.

Last weekend Man City’s Belgian superstar, who boasts nine assists this season, was in imperious form, scoring twice at Emirates Stadium.

Meanwhile 23-year-old Maddison has scored five goals in his last 11 Premier League starts and was on target again on Wednesday as Leicester progressed past Everton in the EFL Cup.

Given that they are both surrounded by talented team-mates, the gap between the pair and their respective playmakers when it comes to service into the box is remarkable.

Passes played into box inc. crosses
Man City Leicester
Player Total Player Total
Kevin De Bruyne 199 James Maddison 161
Raheem Sterling 68 Youri Tielemans 77
Riyad Mahrez 58 Ben Chilwell 67

That is partly due to the fact that they are the primary set-piece takers. But, even so, they are by far the most likely players to make a forward pass into the penalty area.

Capable of carving out chances from accurate crosses or through balls, they will be the most creative players on show at Etihad Stadium.

De Bruyne best in the business

As impressive as Maddison has been for the Foxes this season, he still trails De Bruyne when it comes to opening up defences.

Pep Guardiola’s star man currently leads the Premier League rankings for assists, key passes, chances created from open play and big chances created.

On top of all of that, no other midfielder has attempted more shots at goal or made more passes into the box than the 28-year-old.

The Belgian marries that quality on the ball with an outstanding work ethic off it, an essential attribute for anyone playing under Guardiola with the Spaniard's high-intensity ethos.

While not quite as quick as Maddison, De Bruyne outshines the England international in other athletic data.

Running stats 2019/20
Premier League De Bruyne Maddison
Top speed (km/h) 33.3 34.4
Sprints/90 8.7 5.8
Km/90 11.5 10.3

Counter-pressing is key to both managers’ philosophies, but it will be a surprise if they do not adopt positive tactical strategies for this fixture.

And if it is an open, free-flowing contest, De Bruyne and Maddison are even more likely to come to the fore.

Share of team's end product 2019/20
Premier League De Bruyne Maddison
Goals and assists 31.9% 20.0%
Chances created 23.2% 22.5%
Big chances created 28.8% 13.5%
Passes into box, inc crosses 28.1% 30.8%
Set-piece chances created 75.0% 80.0%

This all means that holding midfielders Wilfred Ndidi and Rodri will also be significant figures on Saturday.

If they can nullify De Bruyne or Maddison’s impact respectively, it may well be pivotal. These will be two high-class match-ups to keep an eye on.

Also in this series

Part 1: Greenwood one of league's brightest two-footed talents
Part 3: Arsenal must beware of Richarlison'a aerial threat
Part 4: Spurs focusing on quick breaks under Mourinho

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