The best 4-3-3 is probably the original back 4. BusXavIniesta and MVA or MVP. The 3-4-3 is a very hard choice though. The question is who to use as the back 3, and where to put Alves and Busquets. Pep did mention using it before the season started to integrate Cesc, but regardless its a formation Cruyff used when he was managing so he has experience with it. There are a few options we can go for, but idk man, which would you say has been more effective?
What do you guys make of this piece on our play ??
We all see that Barcelona are brilliant. The only problem is understanding just how they do it. That’s where my friend Albert Capellas comes in. Whenever he and I run into each other somewhere in Europe, we talk about Barça.
Not many people know the subject better. Capellas is now assistant manager at Vitesse Arnhem in Holland, but before that he was coordinator of Barcelona’s great youth academy, the Masia.
He helped bring a boy named Sergio Busquets from a rough local neighbourhood to Barça. He trained Andres Iniesta and Victor Valdes in their youth teams. In all, Capellas worked nine years for his hometown club.
During our last conversation, over espressos in an Arnhem hotel, I had several “Aha” moments. I have watched Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona umpteen times, but only now am I finally beginning to see.
Guardiola’s Barcelona are great not merely because they have great players. They also have great tactics – different not just from any other team today, but also different from Barcelona teams pre-Guardiola. Barça are now so drilled on the field that in some ways they are more like an American gridiron football team than a soccer one.
Before getting into the detail of their game, it’s crucial to understand just how much of it comes from Guardiola. When a Barcelona vice president mused to me four years ago that she’d like to see the then 37-year-old Pep be made head coach, I never imagined it would happen. Guardiola was practically a novice. The only side he had ever coached was Barça’s second team.
However, people in the club who had worked with him – men like the club’s then president Joan Laporta, and the then director of football Txiki Beguiristain - had already clocked him as special. Not only did Guardiola know Barcelona’s house style inside out. He also knew how it could be improved.
Guardiola once compared Barcelona’s style to a cathedral. Johan Cruijff, he said, as Barça’s supreme player in the 1970s and later as coach, had built the cathedral. The task of those who came afterwards was to renovate and update it. Guardiola is always looking for updates. If a random person in the street says something interesting about the game, Guardiola listens. He thinks about football all the time. He took ideas from another Dutch Barcelona manager, Louis van Gaal, but also from his years playing for Brescia and Roma in Italy, the home of defence. Yet because Guardiola has little desire to explain his ideas to the media, you end up watching Barça without a codebook.
Cruijff was perhaps the most original thinker in football’s history, but most of his thinking was about attack. He liked to say that he didn’t mind conceding three goals, as long as Barça scored five. Well, Guardiola also wanted to score five, but he minded conceding even one. If Barcelona is a cathedral, Guardiola has added the buttresses. In Barça’s first 28 league games this season, they have let in only 22 goals. Here are some of “Pep”’s innovations, or the secrets
of FC Barcelona:
1. Pressure on the ball
Before Barcelona played Manchester United in the Champions League final at Wembley last May, Alex Ferguson said that the way Barça pressured their opponents to win the ball back was “breathtaking”. That, he said, was Guardiola’s innovation. Ferguson admitted that United hadn’t known how to cope with it in the Champions League final in Rome in 2009. He thought it would be different at Wembley. It wasn’t.
Barcelona start pressing (hunting for the ball) the instant they lose possession. That is the perfect time to press because the opposing player who has just won the ball is vulnerable. He has had to take his eyes off the game to make his tackle or interception, and he has expended energy. That means he is unsighted, and probably tired. He usually needs two or three seconds to regain his vision of the field. So Barcelona try to dispossess him before he can give the ball to a better-placed teammate.
Furthermore, if the guy won the ball back in his own defence, and Barcelona can instantly win it back again, then the way to goal is often clear. This is where Lionel Messi’s genius for tackling comes in. The little man has such quick reflexes that he sometimes wins a tackle a split-second after losing one.
The Barcelona player who lost the ball leads the hunt to regain it. But he never hunts alone. His teammates near the ball join him. If only one or two Barça players are pressing, it’s too easy for the opponent to pass around them.
2. The “five-second rule”
If Barça haven’t won the ball back within five seconds of losing it, they then retreat and build a compact ten-man wall. The distance between the front man in the wall (typically Messi) and their last defender (say, Carles Puyol) is only 25 to 30 metres. It’s hard for any opponent to pass their way through such a small space. The Rome final was a perfect demonstration of Barcelona’s wall: whenever United won the ball and kept it, they faced eleven precisely positioned opponents, who stood there and said, in effect: “Try and get through this.”
It’s easy for Barcelona to be compact, both when pressing and when drawing up their wall, because their players spend most of the game very near each other. Xavi and Iniesta in particular seldom stray far from the ball. Cruijff recently told the former England manager Steve McClaren, now with FC Twente in Holland: "Do you know how Barcelona win the ball back so quickly? It's because they don't have to run back more than 10 metres as they never pass the ball more than 10 metres."
3. More rules of pressing
Once Barcelona have built their compact wall, they wait for the right moment to start pressing again. They don’t choose the moment on instinct. Rather, there are very precise prompts that tell them when to press. One is if an opponent controls the ball badly. If the ball bounces off his foot, he will need to look downwards to locate it, and at that moment he loses his overview of the pitch. That’s when the nearest Barcelona players start hounding him.
There’s another set prompt for Barça to press: when the opposing player on the ball turns back towards his own goal. When he does that, he narrows his options: he can no longer pass forward, unless Barcelona give him time to turn around again. Barcelona don’t give him time. Their players instantly hound the man, forcing him to pass back, and so they gain territory.
4. The “3-1 rule”
If an opposing player gets the ball anywhere near Barcelona’s penalty area, then Barça go Italian. They apply what they call the “3-1 rule”: one of Barcelona’s four defenders will advance to tackle the man with the ball, and the other three defenders will assemble in a ring about two or three metres behind the tackler. That provides a double layer of protection. Guardiola picked this rule up in Italy. It’s such a simple yet effective idea that you wonder why all top teams don’t use it.
5. No surprise
When Barcelona win the ball, they do something unusual. Most leading teams treat the moment the ball changes hands – “turnover”, as it’s called in basketball – as decisive. At that moment, the opponents are usually out of position, and so if you can counterattack quickly, you have an excellent chance of scoring. Teams like Manchester United and Arsenal often try to score in the first three seconds after winning possession. So their player who wins the ball often tries to hit an instant splitting pass. Holland – Barcelona’s historic role models – do this too.
But when a Barcelona player wins the ball, he doesn’t try for a splitting pass. The club’s attitude is: he has won the ball, that’s a wonderful achievement, and he doesn’t need to do anything else special. All he should do is slot the ball simply to the nearest teammate. Barcelona’s logic is that in winning the ball, the guy has typically forfeited his vision of the field. So he is the worst-placed player to hit a telling ball.
This means that Barcelona don’t rely on the element of surprise. They take a few moments to get into formation, and then pretty much tell their opponents, “OK, here we come.” The opposition knows exactly what Barça are going to do. The difficulty is stopping it.
The only exception to this rule is if the Barça player wins the ball near the opposition’s penalty area. Then he goes straight for goal.
6. Possession is nine-tenths of the game
Keeping the ball has been Barcelona’s key tactic since Cruijff’s day. Most teams don’t worry about possession. They know you can have oodles of possession and lose. But Barcelona aim to have 65 or 70 per cent of possession in a game. Last season in Spain, they averaged more than 72 per cent; so far this year, they are at about 70 per cent.
The logic of possession is twofold. Firstly, while you have the ball, the other team can’t score. A team like Barcelona, short on good tacklers, needs to defend by keeping possession. As Guardiola has remarked, they are a “horrible” team without the ball.
Secondly, if Barça have the ball, the other team has to chase it, and that is exhausting. When the opponents win it back, they are often so tired that they surrender it again immediately. Possession gets Barcelona into a virtuous cycle.
Barça are so fanatical about possession that a defender like Gerald Pique will weave the most intricate passes inside his own penalty area rather than boot the ball away. In almost all other teams, the keeper at least is free to boot. In the England side, for instance, it’s typically Joe Hart who gives the ball away with a blind punt. This is a weakness of England’s game, but the English attitude seems to be that there is nothing to be done about it: keepers can’t pass. Barcelona think differently.
Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid’s coach and Barcelona’s nemesis, has tried to exploit their devotion to passing. In the Bernabeu in December, Madrid’s forwards chased down Valdes from the game’s first kickoff, knowing he wouldn’t boot clear. The keeper miscued a pass, and Karim Benzema scored after 23 seconds. Yet Valdes kept passing, and Barcelona won 1-3. The trademark of Barcelona-raised goalkeepers – one shared only by Ajax-raised goalkeepers, like Edwin van der Sar – is that they can all play football like outfield players.
7. The “one-second rule”
No other football team plays the Barcelona way. That’s a strength, but it’s also a weakness. It makes it very hard for Barça to integrate outsiders into the team, because the outsiders struggle to learn the system. Barcelona had a policy of buying only “Top Ten” players – men who arguably rank among the ten best footballers on earth – yet many of them have failed in the Nou Camp. Thierry Henry and Zlatan Ibrahimovic did, while even David Villa, who knew Barcelona’s game from playing it with Spain, ended up on the bench before breaking his leg.
Joan Oliver, Barcelona’s previous chief executive, explained the risk of transfers by what he called the “one-second rule”. The success of a move on the pitch is decided in less than a second. If a player needs a few extra fractions of a second to work out where his teammate is going, because he doesn’t know the other guy’s game well, the move will usually break down. A new player can therefore lose you a match in under a second.
Pedro isn’t a great footballer, but because he was raised in the Masia he can play Barcelona’s game better than stars from outside. The boys in the Masia spend much of their childhood playing passing games, especially Cruijff’s favorite, six against three. Football, Cruijff once said, is choreography.
Nobody else thinks like that. That’s why most of the Barcelona side is homegrown. It’s more a necessity than a choice. Still, most of the time it works pretty well
(Chelsea will 99% play the same shit.. This means two squeezed lines of defending of 4 and 5 players with the line at the borders of the box and and Drogba upfront to provide outlet for long balls..)
1) We should play 3-4-3. No need for 4 at the back..
2) Sergio - Xavi - Iniesta and messi infront of them should not break at any cost..
3) Cesc will be of less use, cauz even in the 3-4-3 when he plays well, he needs a lot of time on the ball that he wont have..
4) Play Alexis upfront to provide cutting edge movements at the back of Chelsea defence
i guess this would be the best possible tactical arrangement for the game:
More radical: put another winger instead of alves, alves instead of mascherano and adriano instead of puyol and attack all the way..
Last edited by Birdy; 21st April 2012 at 01:52 AM.
First, listing the tactical points brought up by the 2-1 loss to Madrid would take pages. Check out the comments section of Zonal Marking's article on the game. Key points:
1) A golden rule of tactics is to have one spare man at the back (one more defender than the opponent has attackers). Against two forwards (as with a 4-4-2), three at the back can work. Against one forward or three forwards (4-2-3-1, 4-3-3), you want four (with the fullbacks able to move up when against one). Playing three at the back against Madrid was a bad idea. Which leads to...
2) Busquets wasn't able to close down Ozil because the formation forced him to retreat and cover at the back when Madrid broke. With Ronaldo, Benzema, and Di Maria occupying Puyol, Mascherano, and Adriano, Ozil was free to pick his passes while Busquets was moving backwards.
3) A key part of using a false nine is having players for him to pass to. They can be forwards or midfield runners. Last year, Pedro and Villa did this. Against Madrid, Tello and Alves were ordered to stay wide, where Messi couldn't easily make dangerous passes to them. While this succeeded in keeping Arbeloa and Coentrao away, it left the midfield with the burden of giving Messi targets. Iniesta, Xavi, and Thiago needed to make more runs, especially Iniesta. Given that Iniesta wasn't required to stay wide and he wasn't making runs, I'm not sure what purpose he served.
Those of you who watch the NFL may remember the Miami Dolphins using the 'Wildcat' formation in 2008. At first it was extremely effective, giving them a 38-13 victory on the road against the Patriots and gaining over seven yards per play. However, teams soon adjusted. The Patriots, in the rematch, limited the Dolphins to 27 yards from the formation, and in the playoffs the Ravens completely nullified it. In following seasons, it has been nearly useless for the Dolphins. At first defenses were surprised by it, but soon they recognized its weaknesses. I have a feeling that the 3-4-3 as Barcelona used it is destined for the same fate. Most 3-4-3 teams have three central defenders and two wingbacks; we tried it with four or three defensive players. This formation can be and now has been exploited by good teams that can counterattack. In the second half of the season, we've seen opponents fare far better against it than in the first half of the season.
Keep in mind: Alves, Adriano, and Montoya are capable of providing width in the 4-3-3, and if Barcelona does buy Jordi Alba to replace Abidal, we'll have world class attacking fullbacks on both sides. We can use the 4-3-3 next season, occasionally using the proper 3-4-3 (three center backs, two fullbacks) instead of this midfielder wet dream we tried this year. With the fullbacks providing width, we can have the forwards come inside to link with Messi instead of staying on the touchline. Also, when we don't have Messi, we can use Alexis or Villa as the number nine, with Cuenca and Tello providing crosses (for those players to be effective, you need forwards in the box). With three midfielders instead of four, we can actually rotate and rest Xavi and Iniesta (for all the talk about Cesc and Thiago taking the burden off them, they didn't play less than usual). Best of all, we can regain the directness we had in 08-09 and 10-11. We desperately need to overcome the dependence on Messi, and a return to a proper 4-3-3 is the best way to do it.
I forgot we had a tactics thread when I posted tis in the Chelsea one. I'll just pop it here.
So, my thoughts...
I cannot stress how important this is. I believe that:
1. Pedro absolutely has to start.
2. I'd rather Cesc didn't. He should be brought on around 50 minutes. With the extra width Pedro will provide, we are more likely to break through Chelsea's bus/airplane/defense (delete as appropriate) than last week, or at least have the space to make something happen. Cesc should have been brought on early in the first half last week, as our patient build up was doing nothing; it wasn't quick enough and Chelsea were thus made comfortable managing themselves positionally, Cesc was needed for direct passing to create quicker build up. However.. Because of the space Pedro and Messi should create (if deployed properly) Xavi and Iniesta's paired measured build is certainly a better option- as it will help create and manage this space. If we still havn't scored by half-time, Cesc should be brought on in place on a defender (if we start with 4) for that added urgency.
3. If the above didn't make it clear.. we need to score early. Ideally Chelsea won't score, but if they do we need 3 goals this match. We've manage only one in 2 tight games. This will be tough. Scoring early will make things so much more comfortable and calm.
4. This is not simply a case of "They will never even ever try and get forward, it will be all us trying to score", because they will most likely counter effectively again. So, Pique should start- for a back 4 of him, Puyi, Masch and Dani. We could possibly have 3 at the back, Dani as a RAM/RW, Messi in behind Alexis and Pedro on the other wing. Messi would play all along that line, and come out to link up with Dani on the RW.
And when/if Cesc comes on: (I know we all agree that XH, AI and CF can't play MF together, but Cesc would be almost like a second striker/False no.9; Xavi and Iniesta would still dictate play and do most of the MF work):
Cesc could even play wide when he comes on, and Messi in behind Alexis instead. It's just, I fear he'll be marked by 3 again, so having him on the wing, cutting in, would give him more space, and would tempt the chelsea team out of shape slightly.
Just some thoughts.
EDIT: Mine is the same as yours Birdy- its just I opted to type to show where they would play and how they'd move. Messi Behind Alexis, but cutting in and out of RW. Or Messi up front, Cesc behind and Alexis wide. Or finally, The same as the first one, but with Cesc wide, Messi behind (one less defender- this would be for later in the game)
Last edited by Durden; 23rd April 2012 at 09:50 PM.
Just read in an interview given by Tito, he said that we may see a lot of 3-4-3 as the season progresses.
thoughts on the Tito tactic:
-the team passing is more direct,more long passes instead of many short ones trying to "walk" our way to the opponents goal,gaining a lot of ground quickly instead of a few yards with every pass
-Busi seemed to play more advanced than usual,saw him a few times right in front of the opposition box
-there was something a bit different about the pressing
-no short corners without Iniesta on the pitch
-Tello had more creative freedom than our LW usually has,he took his man on quite a lot and put more crosses into the box,wonder if it would be the same if Alexis played LW
please do correct me if I am wrong
We were certainly a lot more direct. We also passed the ball at light speed at times (which could also have something to do with the freshness of the players at the start of the season). Busquets pulled some long balls into the box which he never did under Pep. Seems like we're attempting more risk passes. Reminded me more of the 2008 / 2009 season to be honest. Or like the difference between Aragones 2008 and del Bosque 2012. Possession but not possession at all cost. I don't think there was a single sequence of 30 or more passes being played (only once when Iniesta was "injured" for a few minutes we kept circulating the ball without any attacking intention). Most attacks ended with like 15 passes at most.
On the other hand: only 1 game. Let's see 10 more games first.
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