After a 4-0 rout at the feet of Paris Saint Germain earlier this week in the first leg of the Champions League, Barcelona was expected to erupt as their superstars were looking to expose 17th-placed Leganes.
The final score was 2-1, so it goes without saying that this game was much closer than it could have been. In fact, it took a 90th-minute penalty to grab all three points. The scorer of both goals was none other than Lionel Messi.
The passing, movement, possession, creation and overall push was all there, but the usual fright-factor that Barcelona possesses was nowhere to be found.
After the 4-0 drubbing they took in Paris last week, perhaps Leganes were not afraid to attack inside the Camp Nou, the home of Barcelona.
Looking at the stats according to Livescore.com, Leganes recorded six shots on frame and four off, just like their hosts. Barcelona dominated possession with 67%.
This goes to prove that containing possession of the ball is not always the answer. If you are going to possess the ball, make it useful: push up the field and pass the ball with meaning to try and create chances to score. If there is a healthy lead, keep possession to defend and disallow the opponent from scoring.
This is simple stuff and Barcelona are usually good at it. But lately, this has not been the case.
The 4-3-3 has been good to Barcelona ever since the late 2000’s. The formation relies on passing, skills, the interchanging of positions and spreading the field.
However, after many years of playing in this system, a breath of fresh air is needed.
Having Neymar on the left, Luis Suarez down the middle and Leo Messi on the right as a front three is virtually unstoppable. It has worked wonders in the last couple of seasons, but evidently the effectiveness has dropped significantly.
The 4-2-3-1 could do wonders for this club.
4-2-3-1: Ter Steigen (GK); Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Jordi Alba (right to left back); Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets (CDM); Neymar, Denis Suarez, Leo Messi (left to right mid)’ Luis Suarez (striker).’
The ability to possess the ball, spread the ball wide and play closely to one another can allow them to use their skills more often.
When Arda Turan had began playing for Barcelona back in January of 2016, Luis Enrique had put the team out in the 4-2-3-1 and they won by a score of 2-1.
This formation allows the team to play a bit more defensively and can be much more lethal on the counter. Wide midfielders, a central-attacking mid and a striker is more than enough to create an attack.
The full backs push up the field leaving the two center backs to keep away danger. The two central defensive midfielders play in front of the defense and push up to boost the attack.
The intelligence level of the Barca players as well as the patience they have when passing has been proven for the past eight-nine years. A switch to a different formation should not be too difficult.
If they want to keep Leo Messi and others happy by returning to winning ways, this needs to be done.