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Talking Tactics

Bernardo excelling as two players rolled into one for City

Adrian Clarke 21 Oct 2021
Bernardo Silva, Manchester City, Talking Tactics

Adrian Clarke explains how the Portuguese midfielder has regained Pep Guardiola's trust

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 9.

Bernardo Silva

The in-form Bernardo has regained Pep Guardiola's trust this season with a series of accomplished all-round displays for Manchester City

The Portugal midfielder has started the last seven Premier League matches, scoring the winner against Leicester City and the important opener against Burnley

Silky on the ball and industrious out of possession, Bernardo has performed like two players rolled into one for Guardiola this term, becoming a first-choice starter. 

Bernardo's goal v Burnley


The champions now face a Brighton & Hove Albion side who are flying high in fourth place, but City will approach Saturday's encounter with confidence and determination.

Despite a testing run of fixtures, Guardiola's side are defending very competently as a unit and have already amassed six clean sheets in eight matches.

The hardworking Bernardo has played an integral part in helping City concede only 38 shots from open play. To put that into perspective, that is 22 fewer than any other team in the division. 

City's pressing game 2021/22
Player Pressures Pressures/90
Foden 128 40.4
Bernardo 224 34.8
Fernandinho 60 31.8
Sterling 127 31.4
Jesus 170 30.5

Bernardo's value as a pressing agent can be seen in the table above. He averages the second-highest number of pressures on opposition players per 90 minutes.

Full-back Joao Cancelo is the only City man to have made more tackles than Bernardo's 13 so far, while none of Guardiola's charges have matched the 11.6km that Bernardo has covered per 90 minutes.

City's long-distance runners
Player Mins Km run Km run/90
Bernardo 579 74.9 11.6
De Bruyne 291 37.3 11.5
Foden 285 36.1 11.4
Rodri 540 68.0 11.3
Mahrez 245 29.6 10.9

Brighton like to pass out from the back, and the impact Bernardo has in stealing possession in advanced areas will be central to Guardiola's game plan.

But, importantly, the Portugal international's ferocious work ethic does not limit his impact for the side inside the final third. 

Operating in a slightly deeper role this season, he is still contributing at the top end of the pitch.

Bernardo's attacking threat 
2021/22 Total Club rank
Completed dribbles 12 2nd
Open-play crosses 18 2nd
Open-play chances created 9 3rd
Touches in opp. box 35 4th
Shots on target 4 4th

Bernardo will often pull wide to deliver a cross into the penalty area and his ability to glide past his markers remains a key component to his game.

While he is not a prolific chance creator or somebody who shoots on sight, he is usually efficient when popping up in those most advanced areas of the field. 

His dual role has been key so far this season, and his form heading into this weekend's match at Brighton bodes very well for the champions. 

Also in this series

Part 2: How Aston Villa can get back on form at Arsenal
Part 3: Rice adding craft to his graft for West Ham
Part 4: Fernandes and Pogba have skills to break down Liverpool

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