Scouting For Chelsea – How Can Antonio Conte Beat Pep Guardiola’s Tiki-Taka?

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Saturday’s Manchester derby saw Pep Guardiola once again get the better of Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese has suffered immensely at the hands of Guardiola in the past and there were no signs of a change at Old Trafford on Saturday. Mourinho and Guardiola stuck with similar tactics and the result also had a familiar look to it. However, this is not the only game which witnesses two great managers going against each other; the Premier League for the 2016-17 season has no shortage of great managers.

December 3 will witness Guardiola taking on Antonio Conte’s Chelsea at the Etihad stadium. Guardiola may have managed to come out successful against Mourinho’s physical and defensive tactics, but what will be Conte’s approach to tiki-taka?

Guardiola made his name by using the tiki-taka philosophy at Barcelona. This involved keeping absolute control of the game by keeping control of the ball by merely passing and moving. Over the years, Guardiola has refined the system and they are no longer are one dimensional. Still, tiki-taka forms the base of his style of management and it was clear in the Derby as the game finished 60-40 in possession.

Conte, on the other hand, is one of the most flexible managers at the top level of the game. The Italian has never shied away from learning new tactics. The 3-5-2 formation has brought him the most success at Juventus, but it was actually a rip off from Walter Mazzarri’s Napoli when the two teams met each other several years ago.

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Conte has so far resisted the urge to use the 3-5-2 formation at Chelsea. However, this could change in the next couple of weeks following the arrival of Marcos Alonso and David Luiz on transfer deadline day. They provide him with enough cover at the back to use the system with John Terry as the captain; Terry’s pace and concerns about his age mean that Chelsea needs to have a proper cover before going with this formation.

City will be extremely flexible and fluid, but Conte may take the approach of packing the midfield and making it hard for the opposition to find space. Once space becomes a luxury, the presence of two forwards in the front – potentially Diego Costa with Eden Hazard or Michy Batshuayi – makes it ideal for Chelsea to turn on the heat through a counter-attack. City were able to deal with the aerial threat of Zlatan Ibrahimovic quite comfortably and they are not the same as Barcelona, who are weak against aerial threats.

It would be extremely difficult to call, but Guardiola seems to have the narrow edge over Conte right now purely because of the strength in depth.

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