Match analysis

We use Opta data to take an in-depth look at Manchester City's shock defeat by Cardiff.

Last Updated: 26/08/13 at 23:29

In the year Cardiff City last hosted top-flight football, the Rolling Stones were debuting at Oxford Street's Marquee club while James Bond was hitting cinema screens for the first time. But there will be no danger of the South Wales club being overshadowed this time around.

As their first home game in Britain's pinnacle division since 1962 arrived, Cardiff produced a memorable performance to stun former Premier League champions Manchester City as Manuel Pellegrini was given a sharp wake-up call.

The glamorous visitors had taken the lead through Edin Dzeko in the second half but Cardiff hit back through Aron Gunnarsson and two headers from former Manchester United, Hull City, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland striker Fraizer Campbell in a fantastic game.

Alvaro Negredo's injury-time goal gave Cardiff a slight scare but they were good value for a famous win and, here, we take an in-depth look at the match.

Cardiff City v Man City starting formations


Cardiff boss Malky Mackay made just one change to his side from their opening day defeat by West Ham United. First-choice Andrew Taylor returned from suspension to take over from Declan John at left-back, where he was directly responsible for trying to stop Jesus Navas. The £7.5million summer signing, Andreas Cornelius, was named on the bench while another new arrival, the combative Gary Medel, was tasked with disrupting Manchester City in the centre of the pitch.

Javi Garcia came into the heart of the Manchester City defence in place of the injured Vincent Kompany, who suffered a groin injury in Monday's impressive 4-0 win over Newcastle United. Manager Pellegrini opted for Garcia, ahead of the returning Matija Nastasic, alongside Joleon Lescott at centre-half - and the pair struggled to deal with Campbell. Yaya Toure captained the visitors on his 100th Premier League start while the same attacking players who dismantled Newcastle kept their places. The movement of Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Navas was again planned as the main weapon in Pellegrini's thinking.

Gary Medel was an integral part of the success with two first-half tackles, one clearance & three interceptions

Where it was won and lost

Cardiff's tactics from kick-off were clear. Their promotion last season as Championship title winners was built on a strong defence after keeping a division-high 18 clean sheets and their plan on Sunday was to suffocate Manchester City, denying the space they enjoyed to great extent against Newcastle. Mackay had said as much, telling Sky Sports in his pre-match interview: "We have got to defend properly and track the runners. They [Manchester City] will have a lot of movement today. We have got to make sure we are compact and disciplined through everything we do."

Medel was of imperative importance to this game plan in the centre of midfield, where he was tasked with denying Fernandinho and Toure the opportunity to build Manchester City's attacks. Indeed, in the first half alone, Medel made two tackles, one clearance and three interceptions.

Craig Bellamy, likewise, was especially influential against his former club, with the defensive responsibility which has become a hallmark of the later years of the veteran attacker's career again evident. The Welshman won seven of his 11 duels and boasted a 95 per cent success rate from his 20 passes.

And despite dominating with 65.6% of the first-half possession and 287 passes to Cardiff's 148, Manchester City did not react to their hosts' squeezing policy. Manchester City had just one shot on target in the first half and were seemingly unable to pull Mackay's hard-working men into wide areas.

Manchester City - inspired by Navas - were praised for seemingly using the width of the pitch in their demolition of Newcastle and in that they had been seen to have moved on from the narrow days of Roberto Mancini's management. But, in the opening 45 minutes, Manchester City demonstrated greater width against Cardiff, despite appearing restricted, than they did in the full 90 minutes versus Newcastle.

Man City showed greater width in the first 45mins v Cardiff (l) than in 90mins v Newcastle (r)

Manchester City's average positions clearly demonstrate they were no narrower in the first half against Cardiff, despite Navas being substituted shortly after the break seemingly for failing to go wide. And therefore their problems against Cardiff can be attributed to facing a more-organised opponent.

At the other end of the field, Manchester City's makeshift centre-back pairing of Lescott and Garcia had clearly been detailed to keep a high line. This would no doubt have been in response to the last time they started together in defence, the 3-1 loss at Southampton in February last season.

Southampton pushed Mancini's Manchester City back with a tactic of high pressure, and Pellegrini evidently did not want a repeat. Despite Campbell's pace causing problems to Lescott and Garcia, who was rushed into four rather panicky clearances inside the opening 15 minutes, Manchester City did manage to win possession on average 34 metres from their own goal against Cardiff in the opening hour in comparison with 27 metres over 90 minutes at Southampton last season. But this in itself caused a headache for Manchester City as Campbell's pace was constantly looking to run in behind Lescott and Garcia. Campbell was allowed five shots of which four were on target, including his two goals.

Man City did not want to repeat the mistakes of the Southampton defeat as shown by the high possession-winning line

Predictably, it took a moment of brilliance for Manchester City to open up Cardiff. Ex-Wolfsburg star Dzeko maintained his impressive record in scoring away from home in the Premier League with a stunning strike in the 52 minute from Aguero's assist. It was Dzeko's only shot on target and just his second shot of the match before he was strangely substituted in the 69th minute for Negredo.

Having also won the player of the tournament at the pre-season Asia Trophy, there is no question Dzeko is benefiting from the faith of Pellegrini. And the Bosnia and Herzegovina international said of his manager prior to kick-off against Cardiff: "He called me before pre-season and told me he counted on me and wanted me to stay. He wanted me to do my best and what I had done before in Germany. I am trying to do my best."

But Dzeko's accurate finishing against Cardiff was in contrast to his performance versus Newcastle. The striker was highly praised for his display in the game with Alan Pardew's team but, by comparison to his finish against Cardiff, he was wasteful with several opportunities.

Edin Dzeko's goal v Cardiff (r) was far more accurate than his finishing against Newcastle (l)

However, the defensive problems which saw Manchester City - who spent almost £90million on transfers in the summer - concede 12 goals in pre-season came back to haunt Pellegrini. Clearly lacking the leadership of Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta - fresh from his new contract - was the guilty party in switching off in marking against Campbell.

Firstly, the Argentine lost the Cardiff striker for the equaliser, with goalkeeper Joe Hart blocking the initial shot from close range only for Aron Gunnarsson to follow-up. Zabaleta then failed to track Campbell at two corners and, with Hart also looking unconvincing inside his six-yard box, the forward made no mistake with two headers. It was a rare lapse for Manchester City who conceded just six Premier League goals from corners in all of last season

Cardiff got behind Man City's high line to equalise (l) and then exploited poor marking at two corners

Negredo set up a nervy finish in added time before the final whistle but there could be no question that Cardiff's commitment, dedication and organisation allowed them to cause one of the major upsets in Premier League history.

Pellegrini's view

"I think we played against a very difficult team - Cardiff had ten players near their own box and it was very difficult for us to try and score but when we scored the first goal I thought we played a bit better after that. Of course nobody can believe they can score two goals against us in set-pieces but football is like that. You must be concentrating in those kind of places and I think Cardiff won the match but I think we played better."

Mackay's view

"For the first time in our history, we are in the Premier League, playing against a team who we go a goal down against and they only lost one game last year from being a goal down. They have got a tremendous clean-sheet record and we knew that it was going to be tough at that point. But we remained disciplined, organised and I felt there was a lot of belief in our ability today."

Niall's view

"It brings a whole new confidence into the Cardiff dressing room. People can feel so much better about themselves. They will walk six inches taller. They are going to have difficult days. But it is a lovely soft landing for them in the Premier League. This is an incredible victory today. Cardiff can now build on this and players like Fraizer Campbell can understand that they can do it."

Player ratings

Campbell scored the two goals which ultimately won the game for Cardiff but he also gave Lescott and Garcia a torrid time throughout the match as the Manchester City pair tried to play a high line. Campbell said: "They had a centre-midfielder playing centre-back so you know you are going to get a bit of opportunity there."

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments


ou can't blame De Gea for wanting to leave, he has enough to do in front of goal as it is as well as taking on the role of Man Utd's version of Derek Acorah in trying to contact and organise a defence that isn't there.

rodger's gusset
Van Gaal downbeat on De Gea


f you want to take six points off Arsenal, then that's a great strike force. Can't imagine either of them showing much for the rest of the season though...

foot in mouth
Adebayor & Berbatov: You Have To Admire The Balls


ooks like Real get their man, most likely at their own valuation, yet again. Resistance is futile.

Van Gaal downbeat on De Gea

Footer 365

Digne agent denies Liverpool talks

Lucas Digne's agent has denied reports he has held talks with Liverpool regarding a move to Anfield for the Paris Saint-Germain left-back.

Mourinho scuppered Reds' Costa move

A new biography has revealed how Jose Mourinho scuppered Liverpool's bid to sign Diego Costa - a year before he arrived in west London.

Ramos 'extends' Real Madrid contract

Manchester United's pursuit of Sergio Ramos is over after the centre-back agreed a new contract extension at Real Madrid.

Mail Box

Getting Tired Of De Gea's Disrespect

One Manchester United fan is growing weary of David de Gea's disrespect. Plus thoughts on Southampton's summer, Balotelli loan, and Depay in the centre. Why?

Mails: This Is My Perfect Moment

Lots of Mailboxers channel their inner Martine McCutcheon to bring you their perfect footballing moments. Plus thoughts on Blatter, names, and Chelsea worries...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company