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5 major differences between Valverde and Enrique's tactics at Barcelona

Rohith Nair
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101.08K   //    18 Sep 2017, 20:25 IST

Barcelona tactics Ernesto Valverde
Ernesto Valverde has brought in sweeping changes that have clicked so far

Nobody expected this after the Supercopa de España. Barcelona had been hammered 5-1 on aggregate over two legs by Real Madrid and we all thought it would set the tone for the 2017/18 La Liga season.

However, Ernesto Valverde has ignored all the turmoil and bad press at Barcelona to keep his team focused and prepared for a long campaign. And they couldn't have got off to a better start.

In one word, their start is perfect. Four games, four wins, 11 goals scored, just once conceded and all 12 points in the bag. In contrast, Real Madrid have already drawn twice, yet to win at home.

So what has Valverde changed at Barcelona to get such a highly functioning unit?

1) Lionel Messi's new role goes back to basics

Lionel Messi false nine Barcelona
Messi is back in the role that made him one of the best players in the world

When Luis Suarez arrived at Barcelona to team up with Lionel Messi and Neymar, it was the Argentine who sacrificed his central position in what was the first step to form one of the most fearsome trios in football history.

One particular game early in the campaign saw Messi and Suarez wreak havoc when the Argentine forward moved out wide. He saw it too and immediately asked Suarez to play centrally while he used his dribbling prowess to cut in from the right.

The result? The trio scored a combined 122 goals and 66 assists in 2014/15 (in all competitions) with Messi bagging 58 goals and 31 assists.

But following Neymar's departure, Valverde moved Messi back to the centre, but in a withdrawn role. It was a familiar position in the 4-3-3 system - the False Nine role that made Messi courtesy of Pep Guardiola.


Also read: How Pep Guardiola transformed Lionel Messi into a destroyer overnight

Under Luis Enrique, Messi's role had evolved from a wide forward to a more central role, crowding the box at times as a result and even playing in Suarez's zone. It was more out of necessity than invention to get Messi as close as goal to possible.

However, Valverde has been clear that Messi would now play in the centre with nobody but the defence to run at and weave his magic. As a result, Messi has now been involved in a goal every 60 minutes (5 goals and 1 assist in four league games and 8 goals overall).

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