Cox’s assessment of Pellegrini’s tactical nous is damning:
Put simply, City and Pellegrini appeared extremely naive here, with their two strikers not contributing anything defensively in the first half. This meant Bayern had the run of the midfield, and when Nasri was sucked inside they had space to exploit down the right, too.
Bayern’s pressing was also crucial in their dominance – they won the ball high up, denying City the opportunity to put together passing moves, or knock the ball in behind the Bayern defence.
He also points out the problems in playing Dzeko and Aguero in the same team:
The relationship between City’s strikers has always been slightly confusing, even in the Roberto Mancini days. Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero is a slightly uneasy partnership, because it’s never entirely certain what Aguero’s role in the side is. Clearly a hugely talented individual, sometimes you wonder whether he’s happier playing just behind a main striker, or playing higher up and sprinting in behind. When he manages to combine the two roles in the same performance he can be unstoppable, but when things are going against his side, he can cause tactical problems.
In the Arsenal v Napoli game, Cox highlights Arsenal’s fluidity playing with five central players:
But the major issue was how Arsenal would get around the problem of starting five players who prefer playing in central positions. Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta sat solidly in front of the defence, but the other three were given freedom to rotate higher up the pitch – Aaron Ramsey started on the right with Mesut Ozil in the centre, but the longer the first half went on, the more they swapped roles.
Such outright fluidity is relatively rare for Arsenal over the past couple of seasons – often they’ve played with fluidity to the left of the pitch, with the likes of Cazorla, Rosicky and (briefly) Yossi Benayoun dovetailing nicely, but on the right they’ve usually used Walcott as a more direct option.
And again there is praise for Özil, who looks like an amazing signing already for Wenger:
But although Arsenal’s wide players drifted inside, there wasn’t that age-old problem with congestion. For that, Ozil must take a huge slice of the credit – he’s an extremely intelligent player in a tactical sense and specialises at drifting wide from central positions, particularly obvious at Real Madrid when he did so to allow Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria to cut inside onto their stronger side.