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What Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could do to beat Barcelona at their own den

1.98K   //    14 Apr 2019, 10:47 IST

Manchester United v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: First Leg
Manchester United v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: First Leg

The central overload low block is definitely the approach that Solskjaer will be looking to employ against Barcelona later this week

For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it's basically a tactic where the players form tight lines of defense, generally deep-seated. The defenders are more focussed on the central part of the field, that's why it's called Central overload

In simple terms, it's called Parking the Bus, and the exponent of this tactic is Mourinho. The basic principle is, the team which has the ball for longer periods is more prone to making mistakes, and it is these mistakes that you should pounce on to catch them unguarded. It's considered negative football by many, but all is fair in love, war and football.

Given that the game is at the Camp Nou, Solskjær could go for a textbook 'Central overload low block’, and that's precisely the reason he came to watch Atletico play against Barcelona. They would in all probability play a low line 4–4–2, which would effectively shut down passing lines for Barcelona. Once again, Rashford would be key for OGS to get an away goal given Barcelona's high line of defence and that United are 1-0 down on aggregate

Will it work?

Barcelona are never at ease against parking the bus strategies. It is absolutely Anti-Barcelona play, and they hate it when their spaces are cut down.

If OGS goes for a central overload, the problem would of course be the buildup on the wingsWith 3 defenders busy congesting the centre of the box, the buildup on the wings is relatively permitted. Since Dembele has not receiving the medical all-clear for the first leg yet, Valverde will look up to Coutinho (given his PL experience) over Malcom without a doubt.

Though there is no established triangle for Barcelona to operate on in the left wing, with Coutinho not yet 100% settled but on the plus side, he still does have a good understanding with Jordi Alba. Barcelona primarily attacks from the left, and playing a lower line gives Alba more time up front to try to link up with the centre.

On the Right wing, there is the triangle of Roberto-Rakitic-Messi, that is more then capable of causing problems for the United defense. Barcelona operate on quick short passing, and this gives less time for the defense to continuously get into right positions.


Usually, Messi starts up playing on the right wing, and it remains to be seen if Solskjaer gets carried away with shackling Messi, thereby deeming Suarez and Alba relatively free, or he goes for a solid Central Block aimed at blocking the team as a whole. Both have their own positives and negatives.

Barcelona are not the same as they were 5 years ago. They do have a much harder time than they used to against such tactics. But what they did against Atletico is a primary example. Tire the opponents, then strike. Even if the opposition tries to avoid this, it's difficult because Barcelona practically have 75% possession when playing such games.

If they can pull off a textbook perfect defensive approach, I give Manchester United a good chance of going through. But at the Camp Nou, it's a different ballgame. Barcelona are a different team playing at home, pressing high and attacking continuously. And it's very difficult for any team to maintain their energy levels and formation for so long.

After all, it depends on what magic Messi can conjure up, and whether the bus can contain the Wizards magic. Chris Smalling might have pressed the trigger, and its left to be seen if Messi comes back at his vintage best to take revenge.