After the dreadful showing in Milan and losing 2-0 to a objectively weaker opponent anyone could guess that the lesson was learned and the coaching staff would react to the obvious tactical deficiencies and the toothless display in the attacking department. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That pretty much sums up what happened yesterday at the Camp Nou.
This Barcelona side is slowly abandoning the Total-Football approach that made them an example to follow in the football world. The style of play is more direct and it is perfectly utilized against the lesser clubs in La-Liga but the biggest flaw of this style is exposed when facing better opponents. There are a couple of aspects tot this observation:
1. The Team lacks width and the center is too crowded
This was so evident in both the Milan and Madrid games. Iniesta IS NOT a winger – he drifts inside too often and collides with Fabregas as they are too similar players and cancel each-out of the game. Only one of them should play and play in the center-midfield position. When you have players like Villa and Telo sitting on the bench and you opt for Fabregas – a midfielder devoid of any pace whatsoever – you will get punished. Milan and Madrid took advantage of this terrible lineups. How many wake-up calls are needed to change something? One more important thing to mention is there’s no more runs in behind the last line to pull defenders out of position – the fluidity is lost and Barca have become too predictable.
2.The intensity of the pressing is way down
So mush has changed since the departure of Pep. In the obsession to fit Cesc in the squad the positioning is disturbed (too close to Iniesta) and when the ball is lost they can’t press effectively.Playing without a striker leaves the opposition’s defenders with time to find the right channel to pass the ball to midfield and alleviate the pressure. Messi is not event trying to press anymore – he is too static and just hovers between the lines and is often forced to drop too deep to collect the ball. That hunting in packs of 3 to 4 players all focussed on winning the ball back immediately after it’s lost- well is not there anymore. The attackers are not the first line of deffence anymore – one of the basic principles Pep instilled into the team is gone.
3.Two attacking wing-backs is TOO MUCH of a risk
Alves and Alba are without a doubt great assets to have in any team. But they should not push forward at the same time. One of them should be positioned just as Abidal was in the previous seasons to add a bit of support to the shaky duo of Puyol and Pique. This was exposed by the Madrid players who found themselves one on one with the slower Barca defenders – and used this advantage to the maximum. This is a tactical suicide – especially against counter attacking teams like Real Madrid.
The closing line is the fans don’t like this new-look Barcelona side. The overall feeling is the team is going backwards from being the sport’s extraterrestrials to just another good team.The aura of invincibility is fading away day by day. A change in the approach and a major soul-searching has to be done to come back to winning ways.