|Will Tata and his fabulous pistacho polo lead Barca to success??
In 3 days, Barca won two games 4-0. On 19th September they won Ajax at home 4-0 and on 21st September they won against Rayo away 4-0. Every football team fans in the world would be ecstatic with these results and wins, but Barca fans were skeptical. Why? Because they didn't have enough possession. It's like they lost a game. Against Ajax at home they had 55% of the possession and against Rayo, for the 1st time since May 2008, FC Barcelona had less possession than the opponent. They had 'just' 49% of the possession. At that point Barca had already won the Spanish Supercup against Atletico Madrid and were unbeaten in the league and in the Champions League as well. Still, it didn't seem to be enough for Cules. Is this justified?
"We played the last few years with homegrown coaches, first Pep and then Tito, and maybe we ended up exasperating our style of play to the extent that we found ourselves slaves to that system, that style" Pique told Gazzetta dello Sport
What Pique said created another huge wave and drama along with the fans and media. But he had a fair point in it and had the guts to say it out loud. The basic idea of Barcelona what Guardiola bring was to have possession all the time and when they lost it, they had to get the ball back as soon as possible and as high up the field as possible, because he had the idea that when you get the ball back from 30 meters from opponents' goal, you are closer to the goal and easier to attack when you win the ball back from 70 meters from the opponents goal. In theory it's easy, and it worked, it worked fantastically well and they won everything. But in football you always need to evolve. Because when you don't opponents already get used to with your playing style and can hurt you. When Guardiola introduced Messi as a false 9 in 2009 against Real Madrid the whole world was amazed and Real Madrid players and coach didn't know how to response. Do the defenders have to mark him or let him drop deep and create an advantage in midfield? They simply didn't know what to do, it was new for them and it worked in Barcelona. But over the years teams knew how to response to and I personally believe that Mourinho deserves a credit for that. He was the one who finally at the end found out how to stop Barcelona. It's a bit ironic because Mourinho is and has always been a collector and he always wants to collect trophies wherever he goes. But with Real Madrid he did something else. He stopped the dynasty of arguably the greatest team in the history of football. Barcelona had a fantastic record against Real Madrid up till the point when they won at Bernabeu twice in a week in Guardiola's last year (1-3 & 1-2) it was the low point of Mourinho and they went to Camp Nou to play the 2nd leg of the Cup and were 2-0 down at the half time. They went in knowing they had nothing to lose and they played their best football in last 4-5 years. In the end they drew 2-2. Barcelona were almost in panic at the end. But they escaped just and went through. But Real Madrid had the morale win. From that on Barcelona have almost always struggled against Real Madrid with a couple of exceptions. Mourinho finally got it how to stop Barcelona. Why? Because they were the slaves of their own style. They stopped evolving, especially last year.
"Now that Tata, who comes from outside the club, has arrived, and who shares the same ideas about football, which are based on possession, he is, however, showing us different options."
Tata came to Barca always saying that he won't change the style of Barcelona. He hasn't. But what he does is sharing some new ideas and evolve. Barcelona games reminded more of handball than football, moving the ball from side to side via Xavi & Andres. So what Tata does? He says play more vertical. Mix the game up with possession based play, 10, 20, 30 passes. But also hit them on the break, attack with 3-4 passes, cover the 70 meters with 3 passes and 5 seconds. Barcelona has already scored twice as many goals as Real Madrid on the break. It's not accidental. It's something that Tata has brought to the side. Barcelona has brilliant counter attacking players in Busquets, Cesc, Messi, Alexis and Neymar. So why not used to to their potential?
barca counters 2013/14
Cesc: "Madrid more possession in second half? We learned. When they have space they feel good, when they have the ball they have problems."
— barcastuff (@barcastuff) October 27, 2013
Tata made some adjustments against Real Madrid that was 'unlike' Barcelona. He brought Alexis for Cesc and Song for Iniesta. He wanted his team to sit deep and defend on their own half cut cut the space for Real Madrid and hit them on the break. They hit Real Madrid with their own weapon. For Cules it's almost like a philosophical dilemma. Do we give up the possession and win games or do we keep the ball and keep our style and struggle?
"In looking at the evolution of our club under its various coaches, Guardiola was the romantic. His successor, Vilanova, was the professor, the man with ideas whose teaching tenure was cut short. Martino is the pragmatist, the man who will do what it takes."
Valdes: "I'm happy about our defense. Celta forced us to defend close to our area, we did well, think we'll learn from it for the future."Barca won 3-0 against Celta, but it was different Barca again. Not the Barca who keeps the ball, puts high pressure...It was a Barca team who kept the ball at times but at times also defended deep and let Celta to have the ball, also on their own half. What that means? The same when Barca keeps the ball on opponents half. The other half of the field is empty. And when Barca got the ball from their own half, they played 1 or 2 (long) passes and they broke the whole Celta defense. They played counter attacking football at times. They mixed it with possession of course, there were times when Barca had the ball for long periods as well, they had around 60% of the possession in this game. But they weren't afraid to be pragmatic, different from the Barca side that were 'slaves' to their style. They weren't afraid to defend deep and hit from the break.
— barcastuff (@barcastuff) October 30, 2013
Football runs in cycles. There was the Hungarian team in the 50's, the Real Madrid in DI Stefano's era, Brazilin 70's Sacchi's Milan in 90's, Barca & Spain...At the same time there were different styles along those era's. First the chaos, German's W-M, English pragmatism, Catenaccio, Total football, Tiki Taka etc...Football goes in cycles and is always evolving. Teams have to adapt.
Tata has played Messi on the right flank a lot this season, also behind #9 and playing a lot deeper, especially after his injury in last 3-4 games. Barca needs somebody up front to occupy the space and give Barca another dimension. Last 2 seasons Messi has scored over 50% of the whole team goals and when he didn't score any more, the team struggled to find somebody to step up. This season Neymar & Alexis have more freedom and they involve in the goals just as much as Messi. It's better to have 3 strikers who can make the impact, rather than 1.
In this video against Celta you can see that Alexis moved in the middle and Messi on the right flank. They switched positions during the game.
Barça was a team with a #9, which evolved into a team without a #9, and are now evolving into a team that need a 9.
Tata has used Neymar and Alexis up front in the last few games and has said that he wants a pure #9 to the team soon. Of course it doesn't mean that Messi is going to move into to the right flanks and becomes a pure winger like he was pre 2009. People often say that Barca doesn't have a plan B but they are probably one of the few teams in the world who has more than just a plan A. They have plan A,B,C & D and can easily transform from one style to another during the game like they showed against Real Madrid in 2011 which was a pure masterpiece
Now they need to evolve into a team that is a bit more pragmatic, plays more on the break, defends deeper, have another weapon in a pure #9 and by doing that they also have to keep the style, the Barca style. That's the key.
Would it be Tiki Tata? I finally got the meaning of the term that I used to hate when everybody overused it when he came to Barca.
Tata: "We don't like the feeling of not controlling games. The ideal thing would be that we can be vertical & also put 20 touches together"
— Lee Roden (@LeeRoden89) October 31, 2013