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Tag Archives: La Liga

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.

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