Tag Archives for " Barcelona "

Barcelona v Atletico Madrid

HOW THE MATCH WAS WON by Keith Scarlett La Liga Barcelona 2 v 1 Atletico Madrid This La Liga match featured a clash of wits between Barca and Atletico Madrid. Barcelona hosted a Madrid side level with them at the top of the table (48 points each). Rushed from the outset, the Catalans needed twenty minutes to

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Barcelona's Attacking Process

By Stevie Grieve

This is the second of two posts looking at Barcelona's methods and tactics from the Champions League Final versus Juventus. This week we look at Barcelona's attacking process.

In the Juventus analysis, I looked at how they would try to stop Messi, which forced Barcelona to adjust and look for alternative routes to goal – they would often switch play and attack from Neymar and Jordi Alba.

If Alves was high, Alba stayed deep and vice versa, or if both were high, Busquets stayed deep to form a 3v2 situation at the back and cover the defence in the pre-transition phase.

They looked to play less of a positional game behind the

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Juventus v Barcelona - 06-06-2015

HOW THE MATCH WAS WON by Keith Scarlett Champions League Final June 06, 2015 Olympiastadion; Berlin, Germany Juventus 1 - 3 Barcelona For the 4th time (2006, 2009, 2011), Barça won the Champions League final. Put on track by an opening goal from Rakitic, the Catalans were disrupted by a Juventus side that did not fall-off despite the difficult

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Barcelona in Defense

By Stevie Grieve

This post is the first of two looking at Barcelona's methods and tactics from the Champions League Final versus Juventus. This week we look at Barcelona's defending process.

Set Pieces; Pique the spare man in mixed marking system

Barcelona have only conceded one goal from set pieces all season while Juventus are a dangerous team from them, so this may have been a game where Barcelona may have been legitimately worried about conceding from a set play. With Barcelona’s lack of height in comparison to Juventus, Gerard Pique’s role in defending set pieces would be key – the only player other than Sergio Busquets and GK Marc-Andre Ter Stegen above 6ft2 and capable of competing in the air.


As the ball is delivered, we see Pique is the spare man with

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UEFA Champions League Final - Part 3

By Stevie Grieve

Vulnerable to the switch of play especially Messi-Neymar or Alba on the left

Barcelona exploit this via switching play to Neymar / Jordi Alba
The biggest problem with Juventus playing closer to the left side (Messi’s side) and compacting the space is that the defensive and midfield chains get dragged across to cover for each player moving across, resulting in a lack of protection on the far side.

Often Neymar would drag Liechtsteiner inside, while Jordi Alba made late runs from deep and exploit the space 2v1. The 1st goal comes from this, resulting in Bonucci being drawn across to deal with Neymar while Vidal failed to track Iniesta who passes to Rakitic for the opening goal.


Here, we can see the

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UEFA Champions League Final - Part 2

By Stevie Grieve

Evra pressing out of the defensive line to close down Messi, Rakitic or Alves at RW

As Messi plays the deepest of the Barcelona front 3, Patrice Evra was tasked to push out of the defensive line and play close to Messi, usually with Paul Pogba but often with Vidal close to Messi (Pogba moved to RM on 30 minutes for 6 minutes then back to LM).

When Evra pressed ahead of the defensive line, it often would leave a large space for Suarez, Alves or Rakitic to move into, which would draw the Juve defensive line over and leave them ‘over compact’ and vulnerable to a switch of play, particularly from Messi to Neymar or Jordi Alba.

Messi has been closed down but not enough to impact where he will dribble into and release the ball as the exit diagonally hasn’t been sufficiently closed enough as the

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UEFA Champions League Final - Part 1

By Stevie Grieve

Juventus v Barcelona

In what proved to be a fantastic game of football both technically and tactically, the team with the most flair in attack proved to be the winners, but it was a game of defensive organisation in both teams, particularly in defensive transitions where both teams were incredibly quick to get back into position form an attacking phase, then become organised. Some clever tactical implementations where used, such as Ivan Rakitic and Dani Alves rotating positions defensively when the right back zone needed covered, and Gerard Pique playing as a single ‘defensive target’ when Barcelona defended.

We also saw Massimiliano Allegri block the influence of Lionel Messi in a penetrative way, not stopping his influence completely as he was able to open up the play with his range of passing and be a danger even 40m from goal, instead of the position we have become accustomed to seeing him in recent years as a false 9 and being the

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Atletico Madrid v Barcelona - 17-05-2015

HOW THE MATCH WAS WON by Keith Scarlett La Liga May 17, 2015 Vincente Calderon Atletico Madrid 0 - 1 Barcelona After Messi’s goal shortly after the hour mark, the movement of Barça on Atletico Madrid’s lawn became a small rehearsal for the upcoming Champions League final. Even if the Colchoneros have less to offer in

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Messi’s New Position at Barcelona

By Stevie Grieve

Despite the criticism of Luis Enrique this season, he has made an improvement on the work by Tata Martino last season, by re-introducing a pressing game and adding an aggressive offside trap, while finding a way to play the front 3 of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar. Earlier in the season, Luis Suarez and Messi failed to connect with enough regularity so Enrique had to find a solution; change Messi from being the false 9 and instead play Messi in a right sided free role with Suarez central.

Obviously, having Messi on the side and not in the centre would make him less effective, so to allow him to drift inside and have Suarez occupy several defenders, there has been a newly formed right sided triangle created with the occupation of the wide zone rotating between Messi and Rakitic, with Alves playing slightly deeper due to his declining physical prowess.

Normally, we will see Ivan Rakitic as the right sided central midfielder, with Messi as a

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Barcelona's Offside Trap

By Stevie Grieve

Luis Enrique took over at FC Barcelona in the summer and one of the first things he has done is make sure that the team are much more solid defensively than they have been in previous seasons. Part of this has been to introduce an aggressive offside trap with Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano; two players who can hold a defensive line high and read when to leave the strikers in offside positions.

There have been various ‘trigger’s for the offside trap, and I will look at 3 of these triggers to play offside;

• When the opponent is forced back under pressure

• When the opponent is on the counter attack but pressure is place on the ball in midfield and a long pass is expected

• When a pass needs to be played first time and the strikers are running beyond the defence in expectation for a long pass

The key to a successful offside trap is that pressure is on the ball when it is used; often an offside line is held when there is no pressure on the ball, resulting in the player in possession having time to pick the correct pass which catches the defence in a position where they cannot recover.
In Barcelona’s case, they offside trap is successful when only 2 of the back 4 are in deep positions, generally with the deeper of the 2 centre backs controlling the line depth.

Against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona secured their first win against the current La Liga Champions in 7 games and the fact that Atletico’s direct approach was nullified by the offside trap went a long way towards the solid defensive display.

Barcelona offside trap trigger – 2v1 on the side


Here we can see the compactness of Barcelona from the

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Barcelona v Paris St Germain - 10-12-2014

HOW THE MATCH WAS WON by Keith Scarlett Champions League December 10, 2014  Nou Camp Barcelona 3 v 1 Paris St Germain So, are there any more undefeated teams in Europe? Nope, especially after the first half hour of this match, where PSG fell against FC Barcelona. A goal from Neymar before the break unraveled PSG and

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Tactical Analysis – Real Madrid Defending v Barcelona

By Stevie Grieve

In the Copa Del Rey final, Real Madrid went into the game against Barcelona confident of a win, even without Cristiano Ronaldo who mass missing due to injury, but with Bale and Benzema both capable of defending from the front and causing problems on the counter attack, Ancelotti set his team up to defend against Barcelona’s main attacking areas, and exploit Madrid’s pace on the counter attack.

Madrid counter-pressing in the opening minutes

Art 5 MadridDefvBarca

Here, we can see that Madrid, having just lost possession, are reluctant to simply drop deep and defend, instead they

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Atletico Madrid v Barcelona-05-18-2014

HOW THE MATCH WAS WON by Keith Scarlett La Liga Sunday, 18 May, 2014 Atletico Madrid 1v1 Barcelona As the days on the calendar flipped by and the sun rose on the beautiful city of Madrid again and again, the expectations for Atletico Madrid remained the same: to eventually fade away leaving what have been the

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How Atletico Successfully Attacked Barcelona

By Stevie Grieve

In last weeks article, I looked at the recent Champions League match between Atletico de Madrid and Barcelona, which Atletico won 1-0. I look at their defensive set up and how they made it difficult for Barcelona to score, and in this weeks article I will look at one specific area where they targeted to create chances based on Atletico’s direct style of play, a weakness in the Barcelona back 4, and how they put one of the strengths of Atletico’s play against one of the weaknesses of the back four.

Raul Garcia v Jordi Alba in an ariel battle

Article 7 AtletiBarca 1.1
Quite often we see a big target man playing against a big center back (Andy Carroll v Martin Skrtel or Per Mertesacker) and its 50-50 of who will win. A better idea is to put

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Tactical Analysis – Atletico Defending v Barcelona

By Stevie Grieve

In the recent Champions League Quarter Final clash, Barcelona drew 1-1 at home to Atletico de Madrid, and went into the 2nd game at the Vicente Calderon needing to score to have a chance at qualification for the Semi-Final.

Atletico have caused problems for every team they have faced in the last 18 months, and in particular Barcelona, who have had three 0-0 draws with Atletico previous to this game, and this would be another scoreless game for Barcelona, who lost 1-0. Barcelona have struggled to score for various reasons, so I will look at some key features of Atletico’s defensive play.

Atletico Narrow Low Block

Article 7 AtletiBarca 3
As Barcelona like to attack through the centre, via Iniesta and Messi predominantly on the inside left and right channels and looking for

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Tactics to Beat Barcelona

This blog post is an excerpt from our new book, Tactics for winning soccer.  The complete article includes tactics on how to deal with Messi and how best to apply pressure on Barcelona.

By Waleed Zaghloul.

Watching the latest Classico, I was wondering how much change will be seen from both teams based on the analysis of some vulnerabilities in a previous meeting this year (discussed in previous blogs). Some of the points analyzed back then showed two vulnerabilities for Barca, defending the counter attack specially against speedy opposition and the other was their left back. Real Madrid were overly aggressive in closing down Messi that they left other Barca player wide open at the back. Madrid were also notably losing their heads and committed very hard fouls when whatever they tried tactically did not work. Let us have a look at some instances of the latest Classico and decide for yourselves.

Asleep at the Wheel

Article 4-1

This first image shows, in addition to the fact that this goal should very well have been called off for offside, a lack of interest from the Barcelona players. Four of the five players are

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The False 9

Our latest book explores how some of the best teams in the world play with a withdrawn forward, also known as a False 9. The number 9 relate to the classic number given a the striker.