Ernesto Valverde's ideas are much more balanced and reserved compared to Pep Guardiola's Barcelona. Ernesto Valverde is very conscious of being balanced, being stable, not offering any weakness to his oppositions.
Last season we saw Valverde use the 4-4-2, and despite being undefeated in the league, he lost out the battle in conquering the Champions League. This year he has been playing 4-3-3 after the criticism he has received from the fans. Let's analyse his first few matches this season.
Valverde played a 4-3-3 in his first match by promoting Sergi Roberto to the midfield to experiment it once, and so he put Semedo in the right-back position. Barcelona won the opening La Liga game with a scoreline of 3-0.
Valverde conceded early in the 3rd game this season, but with 30 shots by full time, Barcelona won the match 8-2. Pure domination by the players as we analyse through.
Barcelona's Speedster Backline
Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto played the fullbacks' role last season under Valverde. Both were exceptional in their positions as we saw last season. But this season we could expect a little more from the Portuguese Nelson Semedo as Roberto looked promising in the midfield.
As expected, the fullbacks offer width to Barcelona's attack. As seen in the few matches, only 10% crosses are delivered by the fullbacks, all other balls are low-driven to the center of the box. One can expect Semedo in place of Roberto this season.
Sergio Busquets is without a doubt Valverde's Barcelona's backbone. He drops deep from his position to collect the ball from Ter Stegen and also protects the defence since the fullbacks attack.
As well as this, the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic can tuck into the central part of the midfield and dart some shots. Usually, Rakitic doesn't get involved in a lot of these attacks put together, but he stills cut inside, so the fullback on his side gets the free space to run along.
Valverde has given Coutinho the license to express his creativity in the midfield; this involves that Coutinho could drop deep if his intelligence says so and start an attack right from the defence if things go as intended.
With the signings of Arthur and Arturo Vidal, Barcelona look more deadly in their midfield. With Vidal's aggression on the field, they can be even more fierce than they were.
Barcelona's front three are Ousmane Dembele, Lionel Messi, and Luis Suarez. When Ousmane Dembele isn't in the lineup, Coutinho fills the left flank as he is a very versatile player. Dembele comes short just in case Jordi Alba makes a run to open wider chances of scoring. Dembele receives the passes after coming short and looks to provide Suarez or Messi, if not, Alba would be his another choice.
So far not seen, but when Valverde had two forwards up front, Suarez would drift a bit wide so Messi could take his angle and shoot the ball. Suarez also scored a lot of goals from the wide area last season thus proving my point. Suarez was also seen playing wide this season in his game vs. Valladolid. Luis Suarez, not-so-selfish, opens up for Messi usually, but Messi rather allows him to bang in a couple of easy goals which come in 1v1 situations.
There is no analysis for Lionel Messi, one of the greatest footballers ever. He does what he wants, and Valverde has given him the freedom to do anything as he can read the game very well. But one point remains consistent, Messi cuts inside and take an angle towards goal providing Roberto to run along the flank. He just does whatever he wants; there is no stopping him.
With a great transfer window, signing Malcom, Lenglet, and Vidal, Barcelona are looking very fierce as they move into the Champions League. This team looks solid for a treble-winning club.Published 04 Sep 2018, 19:11 IST