But, the La Liga giants have been relatively hit or miss this season with the extent of their underwhelming performances solely mitigated by the same struggles of rivals Actual Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
Early within the season as an illustration, they may solely muster half the efforts at objective as newly-promoted Osasuna once they paid them a go to. The Catalans got here away with a 2-2 draw, taking their factors tally to 5 from a doable 12 on the time.
The caveat stays that Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele have been all lacking by way of damage for that encounter. However whereas some steered Ernesto Valverde may conceal behind their absence, the reality is that the shortcomings of his strategy have been by no means extra uncovered.
Good methods and types of play transcend personnel. Sure, a drop in efficiency is inevitable if key gamers are absent however the performance ought to largely stay constant.
After deploying a compact 4-4-2 formation in his first season – that made Barca purists wince – Valverde had discovered the required stability to compensate for defensive shortcomings. Nonetheless, the identical vulnerabilities started to reappear final time period.
In the meantime, with followers, and fairly probably the membership hierarchy, urging Valverde to play a extra attacking model of soccer, he’s succumbed this season and opted for an on-brand 4-3-Three system.
But, that’s neither right here nor there. It’s a compromise which serves nobody.
Outcomes have improved in current weeks however none have been fully convincing. A 4-Zero win at residence to Sevilla was the outlier however even that consequence was barely flattering.
Valverde has fumbled round for the fitting formulation whereas seemingly married to a 4-3-Three arrange. There could, although, be one other system which is extra suited to this Barcelona aspect and extracts probably the most out of their gamers.
Right here, we make a case for the 4-2-3-1 formation.
THE DOUBLE PIVOT
Frenkie de Jong is without doubt one of the most gifted midfielders within the recreation however his begin at Barcelona has been underwhelming, although by way of no fault of his personal. He’s proven glimpses of brilliance however in sure video games he’s been requested to play extra superior to accommodate Sergio Busquets because the anchorman.
De Jong’s capacity to drop alongside the centre-backs and both cross or carry the ball out from defence is wasted if he’s not ready to take action. A double pivot in midfield would see each Busquets and De Jong profit from deeper roles.
The veteran would deliver expertise and stability on the core whereas De Jong’s mobility ensures gaps are plugged and house is exploited in possession.
For Valverde, the system supplies the defensive assurance he craves with out the constraints of a 4-4-2 formation. From a spectator’s perspective it does enable for extra freedom additional up the pitch.
There are additionally choices to tweak the strategy with personnel adjustments. Valverde has Ivan Rakitic, Arthur and Arturo Vidal to select from, every providing a distinct talent set.
Sergi Roberto divides opinion, not solely by way of his capacity but additionally his place. A central midfielder by commerce, he’s all the time appeared like a sq. peg in a spherical gap when deployed at right-back.
Nonetheless, his capacity to retain possession and his positional sense makes him a gentle possibility in that function, even when the attacking points of it are sometimes misplaced on him.
The excellent news is, Roberto needn’t concern himself with actions within the remaining third inside this technique. That may be left to the experience of the entrance 4 and the marauding Jordi Alba.
As a substitute, Roberto can be tasked with sustaining form and equilibrium whereas the attacking gamers run riot.
When the Catalans try and play the ball out from the again, the 27-year-old would seemingly hug the touchline to supply an out-ball, very like Alba would on the other flank.
Nonetheless, throughout a chronic interval of possession, he would tuck into central midfield, making it a 2-3-1-Four formation in that part. That helps the Catalans maintain the ball and keep stress on the opposition.
Crossing will not be Roberto’s biggest power however he can play a diagonal ball and switching play from proper to left, most probably discovering Alba, can be a helpful ploy.
Lastly, when the ball is misplaced, Roberto is able to drop and type a again three within the transition, guarding the Blaugrana in opposition to a counter-attack. Basically, his function lends Barca management in possession and stability within the transition.
FEARSOME FRONT FOUR
For Barcelona to capitalise on the wealth of attacking expertise at their disposal, all 4 of their star forwards have to be on the pitch. This may very well be the system inside which Messi, Suarez, Griezmann and Dembele not solely co-exist however thrive.
First, and most crucially, it maintains Messi because the central determine in attacking midfield from the place he can proceed to orchestrate proceedings masterfully within the remaining third whereas posing a big objective risk.
Every part will circulation by way of him and the Argentine can function freely with the safety of the double pivot behind him, who not solely supply defensive assurances, however also can feed him the ball between the traces.
That’s exactly the place the 32-year-old will look to take advantage of house with the opposite three attackers working in tandem to pin the defence again and afford him extra room.
Griezmann would function coming in from the fitting and maybe even swap with Messi from time to time whereas his presence in and across the field provides Suarez one other high quality choice to link-up with, guaranteeing he’s not remoted.
Dembele brings an X-factor into the combination. If defenders focus an excessive amount of on the actions of Messi and Griezmann, they could lose sight of the harmful Frenchman who has all the required weaponry to punish them.
And simply when the opposing right-back thinks he has him coated, Alba storms down the surface from the place his trademark cut-backs might be swallowed up by Messi arriving late into the field.
The chances for that assault are countless when each member is match and firing, however even when a pair are rested or sidelined by damage, there are some thrilling younger abilities to step in like Ansu Fati, Carles Alena and Carles Perez.