After a fairly uninspiring first Premier League game versus West Ham last weekend, resulting in a 2-0 loss to the East London side, Malky Mackay’s Cardiff City side welcomed Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City side to the Cardiff City Stadium.
Most anticipated this fixture to be a straightforward victory for Manchester City, with Edin Dzeko putting his side 1-0 ahead with an exquisite finish in the 52nd minute – what was about to happen in the last 40 minutes was pure ecstasy for the Cardiff fans.
While one player who was instrumental in his side’s win was Fraizer Campbell, one summer recruit from La Liga outfit Sevilla was unnoticed by pundits throughout the game – Gary Medel.
Gary Medel’s move from sunny Seville to Cardiff is a huge boost to Cardiff’s midfield, the Chilean midfielder adds steel to Mackay’s midfield, although it has been pointed out that he has a bit too much steel, as his disciplinary record in La Liga borders on the psychotic. The £9.5m signing registered seven red cards and countless yellow cards in 90 Sevilla appearances, the man dubbed ‘El Pitbull’, will fit in well to the Premier League, according to boss Malky Mackay.
City played the archetypal Pellegrini 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 formation that his Malaga side played during his tenure in La Liga, with Kun Aguero playing off Edin Dzeko, and David Silva floating in from the left while his Spanish team-mate Jesus Navas kept the width on the right. Manchester City lined up almost identical to the side that faced Newcastle United, with Javi Garcia coming in for the injured Vincent Kompany.
Mackay went with the same formation that faced West Ham, with Gary Medel starting alongside Aron Gunnarsson and Bo-Kyung Kim in midfield for the second game running.
The Midfield Battle:
The daunting task of trying to keep Yaya Toure and Fernandinho at bay. Yaya Toure completed 97/104 passes against Newcastle United last Monday, and Medel couldn’t affect Toure’s imposing passing game on Sunday, understandable really. Toure completed 92/103 passes vs the Bluebirds, with 31% of his passes played forwards. In comparison, Medel’s passing statistics look weak to Toure’s with 28/34 completed passes against City, with 32% of his passes played forward. Fernandinho completed 41/50 passes – a 82% pass completion, while Medel’s midfield partner, Aron Gunnarsson, completed 24 out of 33 passes – a 73% pass completion, and 39% of his passes were played forwards.
While the Cardiff City’s boys stats pale in comparison to City’s Toure and Fernandinho, it must be noted that throughout the game, Cardiff passed the ball just 264 times, 191 of those were accurate passes (72& team passing accuracy). Medel was third to Bellamy and Kim with passes completed (82% to Bellamy’s 95% and Kim’s 91%). City completed 637 passes, 561 of those were accurate, an 88% team passing accuracy.
Passing is not Medel’s forte, however, his tenacity and tackling is. Medel made a total of 3 tackles, 2 of which were accurate – a 67% tackling accuracy. ‘El Pitbull’ won 75% of his ground duels (6/8 ground duels won). His midfield opposition, in comparison, did not reach the ground duel heights of Medel – Toure and Fernandinho won 43% of their ground duels (Toure and Fernandinho won 3/7 of their total ground duels.) However, Toure won all of his three attempted tackles, while his midfield partner Fernandinho won 50% of his tackles (1/2).
Medel made a total of (2) clearances, while Fernandinho and Toure made (1) clearance between the pair of them. City took the game to Cardiff throughout the majority of the game, which is shown in the clearances made by the two sides, Cardiff made (41) clearances, 15 of those from Turner, while City made just 23 clearances, with Javi Garcia making 9 clearances.
Medel’s ability to read the game is one of the reasons why he was sought after by Cardiff, which was shown in his interceptions made in the game on Sunday. The Chilean international made (4) interceptions, the most interceptions in the Cardiff City team, and equalled Manchester City’s total interceptions made. Medel recovered the ball (6) times, equalled by Yaya Toure, while Fernandinho recovered the ball (3) times.
Medel lost possession of the ball just (7) times, while Toure and Fernandinho lost possession of the ball 11 and 14 times, respectively.
‘El Pitbull’ had the lowest final third passing percentages, with just 9% of his passes played forwards, Javi Garcia was the only player who played less passes in the final third, with 6%, bear in mind that Garcia played at centre back.
Toure played (26%) of his passes in the final third, while Fernandinho played (38%) of his passes in the final third.
Gary Neville mentioned on Monday Night Football that Mackay had his Cardiff City team well disciplined in their team effort and team work, which led to their 3-2 win over title contenders Manchester City. Medel embodies Mackay’s team effort mantra that in his footballing ability. Nothing to show off, just consistent in his play.
Medel’s job, first and foremost, is to read the game, to intercept his opponents and get involved with the ugly side of the game; tackling.
The Chilean has yet to be booked in the Premier League, but there are plenty more games left for ‘El Pitbull’ yet.