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Talking Tactics

Rodri can bring calm to chaos at Leeds

Adrian Clarke 26 Dec 2022

Adrian Clarke explains importance of midfielder who is often an unsung hero for the champions

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 17.

Rodri (MCI)

Manchester City will need central midfield lynchpin Rodri to bring much-needed calm and order during what is likely to be a high-octane encounter at Leeds United.

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Jesse Marsch’s side love to play at a ferocious tempo, working extremely hard to disrupt their opponents’ rhythm – especially at home.

No other Premier League side limit the opposition to fewer passes per defensive action (9.7) than Leeds.

In recent years, Spain international Rodri has proven he has the talent and temperament to supply quality control in that kind of environment.

Last season, his tranquillity in possession stood out against Leeds, who were beaten 4-0 at Elland Road and 7-0 at the home of the eventual champions.

Rodri only misplaced two passes when scoring at Leeds, producing an impressive pass accuracy of 96.7 per cent.

Back to business 

The 26-year-old, who was used by Spain as a central defender at the FIFA World Cup 2022, was in tremendous form on his Man City return in the League Cup.

Performing with assurance and aggression at the base of City's midfield against Liverpool, Rodri was one of his side’s standout players in their 3-2 home success.

The Spaniard's long diagonal pass to Riyad Mahrez created City’s second goal and he was a prominent figure throughout.

Making 30 more accurate passes than anyone else, Rodri looks in great form ahead of the visit to Leeds.

Rodri v Liverpool (League Cup)
Touches 118
Passes 103
Accurate passes 100
Duels won 8
Poss. won 9

The home side have several injury concerns ahead of kick-off and are also without suspended midfielder Tyler Adams.

The loss of their most dynamic and influential player in central areas is far from ideal when coming up against one of the division’s very best in Rodri.

Midfield control

While team-mates Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne attract the most attention for obvious reasons, Rodri is having another brilliant campaign which is flying under the radar.

The way he controls the midfield provides a platform for City’s best attacking players to thrive.

Since the start of 2022/23, Rodri has completed almost 200 more accurate passes inside the opposition half than any other Premier League midfielder.

Most successful passes in opp. half
2022/23 Passes
Rodri 618
Joao Cancelo 470
Declan Rice 426
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg 404
Moises Caicedo 398

Considering City dominate possession in most of their matches, Rodri’s ball-winning stats are also excellent.

Closing down rival players with authority, he is second only to Declan Rice among midfielders when it comes to regaining the ball inside the middle third.

Most possession won in middle third
2022/23 Poss. won
Declan Rice 82
Rodri 70
Alexis Mac Allister 68
Tyler Adams 61
Thomas Partey 58

Under Marsch, Leeds have been competitive in every home match so far this season.

They memorably beat Chelsea 3-0 and were unlucky to lose 1-0 to leaders Arsenal.

A potentially difficult match for City is one you can be sure Rodri will relish taking by the scruff of the neck.

Also in this series

Part 1: Why Kulusevski is key to Spurs' top four ambitions
Part 2: Gibbs-White can make the difference against Man Utd
Part 3: Revitalised Salah offers Liverpool a dual threat

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