Saturday, 28 February 2015


Beyond the change from "Model" (The one which, according to the Board wasn't questioned) and the fact unacceptable to me that the 1st team plays in a way and at grassroots (Academy), they work and play in a different manner, fact is this Barça of Luis Enrique has a number of features quite marked. Let's see what this team stronger and, where squeaks this way of playing the Asturian.
The first thing that is clear is that this team has been made from verticality and not horizontality. So far Barça was a team that slowly up the ball until all players have placed in attacking positions and from there, start that dance of positions and players which mesmerized the rival until it left a hole to penetrate with many options to score. It was a team based on midfielders. To fill the midfield with players and create the superiorities from there was the most important.
Now, that does not exist. The team begins at the back to go quickly up, to find the "Three Tenors" that, from these, come the plays. And basically everything goes around Messi. Before, the game was organized from Xavi. He dictated the "tempo" of the match. When to go fast and when to slow. Now, quickly search of Messi, for him, from the position of dropped winger, to make a diagonal to Neymar. This diagonal is what gives him time to get to the edge of the area, which is where the Argentine star is lethal. Weeks ago, Messi picked up the ball and began to dribble players up to the front. He had two lines and 6-7 players to delete. Now no. He delates midfielders with this pass and reaches the front where there will be 2-3 to "disturb" him. Pretty easier.
If the diagonal is not feasible, then Messi tries to dribble and go by the right side. But here is closed for 2-3 opponents... and the sideline. When Messi played as "False 9", could have opponents, but had no space limitations. Now he has them and this makes it easier to lose balls.
And if Messi is closed, turn to play ball back and start moving the ball. But this team no longer has to Xavi and no one to play their role. Midfielders (Iniesta, Rakitic, Rafinha...), are not players with the pause and sense of game as the one of Terrassa. And, the team notices a lot. Too Much. And, as the positional play has become an accessory, if the mechanisms and automatisms are not worked, they are lost. As also football patience has been lost. Everything is vertigo and speed. Back and forth.
And now the team reaches attack positions far between the lines. This means that, if there is turnover, the contrary has a lot more space to counterattack, just as it has Barça. The games have become a coming and going, often nonsensical. And this Barça gives many options for the adversary. Any team can put Barça's defense in trouble, which has not all the blame, much less, of conceding goals.
It is said that when a team receives goals, blamed for the defense or goalie. No. At least not always, and in the case of Barça, perhaps less often than people think. If the ball arrives easily to the rival forwards and they have clear choices to overcome the defense is not, in principle, because the defenses are bad or not in "form". Often in situations 2v2/1v2/1v1 where the opposite faces goal while the defense runs back. Or, the defense must come down at full speed from offensive positions, because the team structure does not allow for adequate coverage and surveillance.
Luis Enrique, after a long time, seems to have found its "starter team". This is formed by Bravo (Ter Stegen for Cup and Champions), Alves and Alba as full-backs, Piqué and Mascherano as central defenders, Busquets as central midfielder and Iniesta Rakitic as attacking midfielders and, Messi, Neymar and Suarez as forwards.
Clearly, the three at the front is pure dynamite. If not the best attack in the history of football, it sure is among the best. There is goal, quality and magic. Each player is different and each player brings to the game unique characteristics: speed, movement off the ball, definition. When any of the three has the ball, you know that anything can happen. And, this is not usually good for rivals.
The midfield is the most suffering this new model of Luis Enrique. Participation in the construction of the game is almost testimonial. As already mentioned, the ball rolling at high speed from defense to the forwards, midfielders only serve as companions. And as companions, have a secondary role. Their work is more recovery than building up. And Xavi and Iniesta are very uncomfortable with these very remote functions of their features. And Busquets has to take care of hundreds of square meters, because the team is no longer the team that was all together and had a player 10m. away of each other. Now, that does not exist. If the ball arrives to the forwards, they try to do something without expecting support. If it goes well, it's fantastic. But if the play does not end, midfielders are far and spaces are very large. As it is about running and not about have fluency in the game, many people prefer Mascherano instead of Busquets in the middle. As I said a few days ago, before, to have the matches under control we were using Xavi. Now we use Mascherano. Different players, different football concept. And, of course, will give different results. We have gone from make the ball run to make the players run. Concept.
And on defense, after Douglas, Mathieu and Vermaelen have come, Piqué and Mascherano continue to play, with testimonials roles for Bartra and Montoya. It is true that we have recovered the best version of Piqué and the team appreciates it. But Mascherano remains the "libero" (Sorry, but I don't accept this of "central amender"; you know that I do not like the inventions of names for existing things), and it seems that there is no credible alternative by the coach in the major matches. In the meantime, Alves still offering a lime and sand and Alba, in tight defensive situations, shows that still have tactical deficiencies. Both are much more comfortable in attack than in defense. Perhaps because even for so fast players like them it isn't useful?
And behind the defenses,  there is the goalkeeper. Bravo is however expected. Sober, without great fanfare. A goalie to win games, but not to win Championships, in my opinion. You can tell me that he is the less scored goalkeeper of the League and probably of the season. Barça goalkeeper has to stop the very difficult balls... and some of the impossible. Ter Stegen is proving the correctness of his signing. No complex, playing quietly and is very young. And, this yes, he stops some of the impossible balls.
We're talking about a Barça that makes a lot of goals, but also gives many options to the contrary. A Barça built from the speed of the players and not from the order of the ball. Basically, this was expected. Compare the players who were Luis Enrique and Guardiola, compare how their teams are. And is not the same to play against a mid-table team in the league, that to it do against Madrid, Chelsea or Bayern in the Champions League. If we play like the first half against the City, everything is possible for this team. If we do as the second one..
A team, as Luis Enrique said in his press conference of presentation, which is unpredictable. What happens is that often it seems unpredictable for the players themselves.
Jordi Pascual
You can follow me on twitter: @JordiPascualP

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