Claudio Bravo made his Premier League bow yesterday in the Manchester derby and it was pretty eventful I suppose. After two days of training, Bravo was thrown in at the deep end, a sign of the faith Guardiola has in the former Barcelona ball player.
Bravo’s impact was immediate. Not only did he pass with accuracy, but each ball from the back had a sense of purpose. More often than not he went for a penetrating pass to Fernandinho rather than reverting to crab football. The difference between Hart and Bravo is like the difference between Mikel and Fàbregas. It’s not side to side, but back to front. It’s not passing for the sake of passing, but passing with a positivity that sets a precedent for the rest of the team.
This fearless passing had a domino effect as Otamendi and Fernandihno played through ball after through ball from defensive posistions. Funnily enough it was John Stones who found row Z more often than any of the other defensive players, proving Guardiola’s impact isn’t quite as tiki taka as many would have you beleive.
This relentless positivity on the ball meant that Man City kept possesion with a purpose. This proved to be devastating for Mourinho’s side, who witnessed some of his players cramping up with almost twenty minutes left. I must reiterate that Bravo was the catalyst for this esquisite start. Then he dropped the ball, and here’s where it got really imteresting.
The mistake itself was reminiscent of Peter Cech’s debut at the Emirates for Arsenal.
Similarly to Cech, Bravo pushed his defence right up. The purpose of this is to give yourself as much space as possible to come out and catch the ball. Unfortunatley Bravo clashed with Stones and and dropped the ball. It was a mistake that clearly dented Bravo’s confidence. There were a few nervy passes, but he didn’t shy away. In the post match press conference Guardiola spoke proudly of Bravo’s bravery. Video curtosey of BeanymanSports.
Bravo’s bravery almost cost him when he went in on Wayne Rooney with both feet off the ground. In all honesty it was probably a red card. Mourihno made changes at half time that enabled United to press with more dynamism, and put pressure on the somewhat rattled City keeper.
Playing brave passes when your confidence has been knocked in the most watched game in television history on your debut against your biggest rivals isn’t easy. Bravo prospered with the help of lady luck. Yes he made a mistake, but more importantly he proved that he has an incredible strength of character and great distribution.
If Guardiola thinks that your keeper passing it from the back is important then I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Some of the British pundits have been synical of some of his tactics. Rather than questioning with hostility, maybe we should try and understand why he makes the decisions he does. After all, Guardiola has won twenty two trophies in eight seasons. Probably knows what he’s doing doesn’t he?