Barcelona has found the perfect formation to win the Champions League.
The Barcelona squad has been struggling since the restart to maintain their previously held lead over Real Madrid in the La Liga table. Their three draws in the first six fixtures meant that they dropped points to eventually give Los Blancos the current four points lead over them.
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Their latest match against Villarreal, however, was unlike any we have witnessed in recent history as Setien’s men dominated the opposition the way fans hoped they would in each of their matches. Surprisingly, what worked for the 61-year-old coach was a unique system that he has never applied before, and that was shifting Lionel Messi instead of shifting the team around him.
The match against Villarreal has excited Culers around the world, giving them hope for the remaining of the season as Barca continue to fight for the La Liga title with Champions League resuming next month. The newly found successful system could potentially give Barca the edge to hold the European crown this year to end the season on a great note.
The New Formation Against Villarreal.
Antonie Greizmann (Left-Striker)
Luis Suarez (Right-Striker)
Lionel Messi (False 9/Free Roam)
Sergi Roberto (Left Central-Midfielder)
Arturo Vidal (Right Central-Midfielder)
Jordi Alba (Left Wing-Back)
Sergio Busquets (Central Defensive Midfielder)
Nelson Semedo (Right Wing-Back)
Clement Lenglet (Center Back)
Gerard Pique (Center Back)
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Goalkeeper)
This diamond formation worked perfectly for Setien who was against a Villarreal team that was lined-up as a 4-4-2 which worked greatly for Barca. This system, if perfected, could potentially be the best available strategy as it allows the existing players to play at their preferred position which allows them to shine. The diamond allows the squad to play really close to each other which further helps with their possession-based football. This could ideally open up great synergy between the front trio of Messi, Suarez, and Greizmann, which fans have been hoping to witness ever since Antoine’s arrival last year.
Though having a narrow formation might mean that the squad lacks in width but that’s where the two full-backs come in, where Alba and Semedo can provide the support by going wide forcing the opposition to close in which further opens up space in the middle for the midfield and the attackers. This, however, will also mean that the fullbacks will not only be forced to put in a lot of work to aid the attack but also come back for their defensive duties.
To help this, Sergio Busquets is often seen moving between the two center-backs to practically form a 3 man defense, especially during a buildup. While the two wing-backs are ahead, the three-man defense protects the center but the weakness to this is that the opposition can easily move into the empty wings to cause some trouble which means Setien must find a way to quickly recover a lost ball or fill this gap in order to stop any opposition from crossing the ball in the middle.
The two center midfielders of Arturo Vidal and Sergi Roberto were picked for not only having great defensive attributes but also provide offensive flair in the buildup. Both Roberto and Vidal were seen making runs towards the wing to provide support to hold the possession. This allowed a very talented Busquets (and potentially De Jong when he recovers) to control the play as he wishes. Against Villarreal, Busquets was seen having plenty of options ahead of him as 3 forwards, the 2 center midfielders, and 2 fullbacks were all present for the picking.
Lionel Messi was also seen dropping slightly back to connect with Busquets in order to start an attacking play which allowed the squad 65% possession while having 11 shots on target during the course of the game. The Argentine Maestro was very comfortable playing as an attacking midfielder with the ability to freely roam which then allowed Antoine Griezmann to play in his usual position which he did so successfully at Atletico Madrid.