A year unbeaten: Why Rodri makes Man City tick


Fifty-two matches played in 52 weeks – zero defeats. An unbeaten year for Rodri in Manchester City colours.

Ever since Tottenham beat Pep Guardiola’s side 1-0 on February 5, Rodri has guided his club to historic success. Five trophies, 42 wins and 10 draws later, plus one Champions League final-winning goal – perhaps the Spain midfielder has forgotten how to lose.

In fact, for both club and country, the only two disappointments Rodri has experienced in the last year are a penalty shootout loss to Arsenal in the Community Shield – which technically counts as a draw in 90 minutes – and Scotland’s 2-0 shock win over Spain back last March.

The drop-off City show when Rodri is not there is telling. Guardiola’s winning machine have lost five out of the seven matches the 27-year-old has missed over the past year.

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They have shown they can cope without Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne, but no Rodri? It’s just not the same.

If Guardiola is the conductor in this perfectly tuned City orchestra, then Rodri is the metronome that sets the rhythm. The treble winners are the pass masters of Europe and at the heart of the team is Rodri, who is involved in more sequences of play than any other player on the pitch.

It is not just the number of passes that Rodri makes, it is the type of balls he plays. The 27-year-old plays more passes between the lines, and bypassed more defenders through doing so, than any other player in the division.

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It does not just make him a good build-up player, he is also a creative threat. No better statistic sums it up better than Rodri being in the top-10 players in the division for passes that lead to a shot within two passes – the other nine are either attacking midfielders, wingers or strikers.

An example of how effective Rodri is in this aspect was City’s third goal against Brentford on Monday Night Football. The Spain midfielder took four Brentford defenders out of the game to feed Erling Haaland, who then had the space to tee up Phil Foden for his hat-trick.

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Phil Foden bags his hat-trick goal against Brentford to extend Manchester City’s lead to 3-1 at the Gtech Community Stadium

Other standout moments include unlocking Nottingham Forest’s defence with a crossfield pass to tee up another Foden goal in September. He repeated the same action at Manchester United a few weeks later, only this time Foden and Haaland could not get past Andre Onana.

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Onana produces huge save to deny Haaland from ‘guaranteed’ goal

The stats metrics show this too – Rodri ranks third for accurate switches of play in the Premier League this season, showing he can produce the unpredictable alongside the rhythmic steadiness in this City team.

Of course, Rodri also has a defensive element to his game. Even though City dominate possession regularly and do far less defending compared to most teams, Rodri still ranks second in the Premier League for balls won in the middle third of the pitch.

That is to be expected as he is one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, but what is not is his goal threat, with 10 goals and 14 assists in all competitions since the start of last season.

His goals are not just standard stat-padding ones either. Aside from the Champions League final winner in Istanbul, there was the late winner at Sheffield United, an important piledriver at Chelsea and a stunning effort in the Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich.

But Rodri is not just City’s man for the moment. He’s their man for every moment, as where would they be without him?

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