With Tuesday's 3-1 victory over Sevilla, Manchester City advanced to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League for the third successive season. However, unlike last season when at this point in the competition the Blues had just two points in an arguably weaker group , this side has now won three on the trot in the competition and could win the group. If that happens Manuel Pellegrini's men will likely avoid facing the likes Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern in the next round.
Manchester City chunked the 4-4-2 that featured at the weekend against Norwich City. The Canaries were able to frustrate the Blues who didn't secure the three points until the 89th minute. On Tuesday the Blues came out in a 4-2-3-1 formation that often looked like a 4-3-3. Jesus Navas and Raheem Sterling had tons of space to use the pace advantage both players had. Yaya Toure once again featuring as a number 10 was able to dictate the tempo of the match while Fernandinho supplemented Toure's forward movement. Fernando showed an ability to win balls and quickly turn possession into a counter-attacking opportunity. Simply put everything Manchester City tried to do tactically worked in this setup.
The Blues Manager Manuel Pellegrini addressed these changes and the high level of performance with his postmatch comments.
"It was a very good perfomance. I'm not sure it was the best or not but it was the performance we needed to qualify.
"We played a very good game - we scored three goals and missed three or four clear chances to score more goals.
"We had changed the way were playing and I was really pleased with the way the three midfielders played and pressed higher. Sevilla couldn't cope with it.
"We had prepared to play one-touch football and that was the reason we created so many chances.
"We defended well too and dominated possession. I changed the system because I was not happy in the way were were playing against United and Norwich - it was not the team we normally see.
"Today, we returned to our normal style of play and tried to dominate possession."
Raheem Sterling's play in particular made this formation work and the game demonstrated that when given more time and space to operate, deploying Yaya Toure as a number 10 is still a good option.
If the Blues win in Turin against Juventus on Matchday 5 they will win the group, which would be a momentous achievement for the club.