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Analyzing Barcelona's Champions League blemishes: Is mentality more important than tactics?

Modified 20 Dec 2019, 22:59 IST

Lionel Messi unable to do anything as Barcelona crash out of the Champions League.
Lionel Messi unable to do anything as Barcelona crash out of the Champions League.

Two weeks ago, in what can only be termed as one of the most eccentric nights in the UEFA Champions League, Liverpool shook the world by staging one of the most startling comebacks in Champions League history, when they overcame a 3-goal deficit by beating Barcelona 4-0 in the second leg of their semi-final at the Anfield. 

A brace each by Georginio Winjaldium and Divock Origi broke the UCL ambitions of the Catalan giants, in spite of the fact that their star players, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, were out injured for Liverpool.

As for FC Barcelona, this is the second consecutive time that the club threw away a commanding lead from the first leg, only to disappointingly falter in the second. Moreover, it has now been 5 years since the Catalan giants won this prestigious European trophy, a long period of time for a club of such stature.

Despite having an extremely specific and entertaining way of playing, the Camp Nou outfit has failed when it mattered the most. This perplexing case of Barcelona leads me to ask if, instead of tactics, it is mentality and psychological grit that is more important for big and ambitious clubs.

While speaking about Barcelona's Champions League failures, it is also, at the same time, intriguing to note that their arch-rivals, Real Madrid, has won each of the last three editions of the Champions League under the tutelage of Zinedine Zidane.

What can be observed from Zidane's Europe-conquering rein is that his tactics were extremely simple; emphasis being on crossing the ball into the box for the enigmatic Cristiano Ronaldo and placing more importance on man-management. Strong mentality, unerring spirit, and world-class players were the three key components of that Real Madrid team. This team may not be remembered for its tactics, but its trophy haul would sure be.

Let's take another example: France's recent World Cup victory. In June last year, It was France who won the prestigious FIFA World Cup.

However, many argue they didn't play like champions: In spite of possessing a stellar squad, France played counter-attcking football and defended deep. They often relied on the individual quality of world-class players like Mbappe, Griezmann, and Pogba. Furthermore, other favorites like Germany and Spain, who played entertaining football, heavily faltered in the competition.

To sum up, it cannot be denied that strong mentality is certainly needed for a football team to win the biggest trophies, and while many may disagree, it may even be more crucial for a big club than the tactics and playing style.

Published 21 May 2019, 20:51 IST
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