Barcelona midfield tactics

Barcelona – Valencia: Ansu Fati And Valverde’s Latest Midfield Experiment Take Down A Confused And Leaderless Valencia (5-2)

Led by the free-roaming Arthur and Frenkie de Jong and an energetic Ansu Fati, Barcelona quickly took down a Valencia team that was visibly shaken by the recent firing of their coach. During the second half, Griezmann’s increased interventions in the game and Suarez’s entrance produced even more goals for the home side.

Tactical analysis and match report by José Pérez.

With Messi still recovering from injury, it is still early to draw any definitive conclusions about the game plan that coach Ernesto Valverde will use for his 2019/20 Barcelona. However, one of the tactical themes of Barcelona’s first four LaLiga games without Messi has been the aggressive positioning of their central midfielders. 

While in previous seasons Barcelona used a double pivot (or sometimes even triple pivot) midfield in deep zones in front of the opposition’s defensive block, this season they deploy two interior midfielders in between opposition lines, with only the holding midfielder staying deep. The disintegration of Barcelona’s double pivot is best represented by Valverde benching Ivan Rakitić, who was Valverde’s key man in that midfield structure over the last two years. 

Against Valencia, Barcelona came out with their usual 4-3-3 shape. The defensive line featured the usual suspects (Semedo – Piqué – Lenglet – Alba) while Arthur Melo finally returned to Barcelona’s starting lineup to form a midfield trio with Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong. Given Rafinha’s departure to Celta and all the injuries of his starting forwards, Valverde continued his use of youth academy products in the front lines. Carles Pérez and 16-year-old Ansu Fati -in his first senior team start -played on the wings . . .

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Jose Perez (27) writes and talks about anything football-related: players, tactics, analytics, the relationship between football and society. Whenever he is not working on high-power lasers, he tries to keep up with all big five European leagues, but focuses particularly on La Liga. Outside of Between the Posts, you can find him arguing with people and posting analyses on Twitter or answering questions on Quora. [ View all posts ]

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