3 issues Quique Setien needs to correct at Barcelona
The long-standing discontentment at Barcelona with Ernesto Valverde ended with the Spaniard being sacked. He was replaced by former Real Betis manager, Quique Setién. Setién's appointment was met with a lot of optimism because of the style of football he emphasises on as well as his commitment to play beautiful football. However, Setién has various issues to solve at the Camp Nou and he will won't have much time to do the same, as the Champions league knockouts are arounf the corner. Here are three tactical issues Setien needs to solve to get Barcelona playing at their best.
#1. Midfield composition
Despite having talented players in the centre of the pitch, most of Barcelona's issues stem from their midfield composition. Sergio Busquets remains the metronome in his role as a deep-lying playmaker. However, the midfield constantly features players of the same ilk. Arthur prefers dictating play from deep and Frenkie de Jong's best role is as a sweeper and a deep-lying playmaker. Due to having a similar profile of players, it leaves Barcelona without central options in the final third.
In the previous years, Barcelona had Andres Iniesta, a strong dribbler, to play as a complete midfielder with Xavi and Busquets behind him. This ensured that they had sufficient goal contributions from the midfield. None of Busquets, Arthur or De Jong can be expected to act as consistent goalscorers from the midfield. Therefore, Setién needs to change the composition of his midfield. Perhaps De Jong could be utilized in a more box-to-box role and given a run to see if he can adapt himself. Notably, Barcelona have Arturo Vidal at their disposal as well. While he may not be the same player he was while at Juventus, Vidal is still a workhorse and a box-to-box midfielder with the capability of scoring useful goals once in a while. Barcelona needs more mobility and dynamism is required in midfield.
#2 Fit Antoine Griezmann in the side
It is fair to say Antoine Griezmann's Barcelona career has not started the way he would have wanted it to. The French forward struggled in the initial stages of the campaign and at the time of writing has just nine goals in 28 appearances. The dilemma facing Setién is how to fit both Griezmann and Lionel Messi into the same starting eleven.
Messi is usually handed the free role which is understandable given his caliber and genius. However, Griezmann's preferred role as a second-striker or false nine closely overlaps with Messi's preferred areas of operation. This leaves both players in close contact with each other and disrupts Griezmann's best abilities. The Frenchman is not a great number nine either and his talents would be wasted in the wings alone.
#3 Restore one-touch passing and quick movement
Barcelona, over the past two decades, have been characterized by tiki taka football, juego de posicion and a general love to keep the ball and move it around quickly. Ernesto Valverde's reign seems to have drained Barça of the need to progress the ball quickly and avoid unnecessary sideways passing. Even though they still have the majority of possession in most of their games, Barcelona seem slightly unimaginative when it comes to using such possession productivity. It is almost as if the primary tactic is to pass it to Messi and hope for some genius.
The Barcelona of the past facilitated Messi to be at his best with their positive passing and quick moves, not vice versa. Hence, Setién must reinforce the principles of using possession of the ball positively and create more movement on and off the ball. Players must once again play with the swagger of the ones who plays for Barcelona and be courageous with their passing and progression.
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Published 08 Feb 2020, 10:19 IST