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For any neutral watching on, this was a game which had in show breathtaking technical skill and natural footballing talent in abundance. Particularly, the strikers on both sides are so ridiculously talented that any one particular formation ceases to exist after every 15 minute spell if you might will. Barca with a top three of Henry, Eto’o and Messi usually are best suited for a 4-3-3 with Henry and Messi playing far far away and slightly below Eto’o at the center (Point of Reference). Although this seemed to work for Barca, it always has had its vulnerability due to the lack of bodies in the midfield when the ball is lost.

One thing the new Atletico manager Abel Resino got right was that they would play a very high back line. This helped the team being more compact when they had the ball and Barca weren’t able to win the ball back. Except Yaya Toure, Gudjonsen and Xavi aren’t ball winners. Toure was extremely stretched because he had to double up for the spaces left behind by Gudjohnsen. Toure played right in front of his back four protecting them and Xavi played in front of him as the creative influence. Although one could argue that Gudjohnsen played behind the front three, he really had a free role and I couldn’t see him sticking to any particular tactical plan. Barca would have won but for the profligacy of the front three.

And as soon as Atletico got the ball, they moved the ball with blistering pace through the midfield giving Barca all sorts of problems. Dani Alves although very effective going forward, was at fault a number of times for the extra-stress on Puyol-Marquez center back pairing. Usually it is Puyol who plays right Center Back and his pace usually covered for Alves’ absence at the back. But strangely, Guardiola I thought went for Marquez as a right side center back which took out the composure and the assureness in Marquez’s play because he had to shield the right side from Simao and counter Forlan who I thought had a smashing game. Maxi and Assuncao worked tirelessly and hit the forward ball to the front three taking no time to and it was the pace of Aguero and Simao which caused Barca all sorts of problems.

I am not sure Barca can win the Champions league playing what I would call a juggernaut 4-3-3 with your top wide men (Henry and Messi here) hardly shielding their full backs. Mourinho’s 4-3-3’s at Chelsea were stark in contrast due to its ability to become a 4-5-1 when they didn’t have the ball and Robben and Duff used to run back to cut down spaces in the midfield. And when they had to attach, they switched to a 4-3-3 which was pretty effective. Drogba one might say was a better player than Eto’s holding the ball up and allowing Lampard, Robben and Duff to do the damage along with himself chipping in quite frequently with goals. But I am not so sure about Barca. And for Atletico, they can’t comprehend being consistent but they can turn any team on their day over due to their gifted attacking talents.



  1. Perhaps they could have used Busquets. But for me,Gudjohnsen ,eto each missed an absolute sitter just like how forlan did which affected the results. Also, I feel that they could go with pinto instead of valdes. Though he is old, he is as good as valdes. Given the minutes he has played ,he could even be considered better. But I ahrdly get a chance to watch him as they don’t show copa dela rey.

    The first half of the season, Valdes hardly had any work to do with the ball, given the major chunk of the possession / goals Barca had. But under pressure he hardly holds on to the ball.I do agree he makes some fantastic saves but he does commit a lot of mistakes too. And also they could switch between henry and iniesta instead of using them both.As iniesta has better dribbling skills and pace compared to Henry.

    • Thanks for the comments.

      Puvi: Interesting point that. A more assertive goalkeeper really helps defenders on set pieces. I haven’t seen much of Pinto. But I heard a very interesting incident. During the copa del ray game against Mallorca (Not sure), he saved a penalty and before the penalty taker got ready, he seems to have gone straight upto him and told him which way he was going to dive. He kept his word and saved the penalty with his legs. Something for goalkeepers around the world to take note although some might think this is not the zenith of sportsmanship. But I found it more funny than cunning.

  2. 1. Keep writing

    2. Wish I saw this match.

    3. I have seen this 4-5-1 re-formation during Mourinho’s time at Chelsea on more than a couple of occasions. This one evening (was it against Villa?, i don’t remember), when the midfielders of the opposition kept changing their modus operandi, the 4-3-3 switched into a 4-5-1 and they were able to contain every attacking threat hurled their way inside a kind of a box-formation. Four blue players would be around every opposite-color player who gets the ball. For one who doesn’t fancy games where people just contain the opponents, I admit that it is necessary at times. Well written/analyzed.

  3. Barca with all their abundance in attack, fail to win the ball when the opponents attack. Keita was bought as a ball winner and Busquets was drafted into the first team for the same reason. But both fail to do it in the big stage.
    Barca is formidable when they have the ball, but when they don’t only their keeper gets it. Their midfield needs overhauling with a solid ball winner who can fit into the system along with xavi and iniesta/gudjohnsen/toure.

  4. Pinto plays only in the kings cup. There are reports(rumours) linking Sergio Asenjo with Barcelona. Let’s see.

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