Juan🎗️ Profile picture
28 Nov, 39 tweets, 17 min read
Villarreal - F.C Barcelona:
Through struggle comes faith, or why Barcelona can/should be grateful for yesterday's win in the near future ~


It is in the first minutes that Abde had already showed the world why he started against Villarreal. A 1v1 winger that Barcelona lack, able to receive the ball thanks to his runs off the ball & Abde toyed with his marker throughout the night.

A unique profile in the squad.
Barcelona made frequent use of Abde's positioning off the ball + dribbling abilities as they were often caught in a dead-lock in the left despite frequent overloads. Excellent defending on the left, but abysmal on the right as Abde's 1v1 aptitudes gave Barcelona an advantage.
Barcelona sometimes made it difficult for Abde, but he certainly was up to the task. He managed to create advantage from tough situations where he was isolated. Bit silly from Villarreal to not have adjust to the Abde factor.
There was some miscommunication throughout the game. Here, it is unclear whether the centre-back or the right-back will receive the ball.

Against a team like Villarreal that press high well, it's the nightmare to avoid.

Can be glad this was not a goal. Communication!
The right was a nightmare for Barcelona to defend. Not because of the individuals, but because of the collective. In this case, Barcelona's "free" players should have doubled down to lock the right. The second came late and the third will more or less never come.

Big mistake.
Barcelona's pressing did not even seem as half-convinced as it had been in the last matches. Some players commit to presumably a man-marked system, but zones were left behind – Villarreal's strength.

Never half-commit.
Villarreal realized Barcelona's right-wing had terrific defensive issues. It exploited it very well from the first instances. Araujo lacked the awareness to either commit or did not see who was behind him (behind the back trick!) & Villarreal have possession between the lines.
Unfortunately for Villarreal, their mistakes cost them. Losing the ball there is dangerous – have to be happy it wasn't goal.

How to use the opponent's error w/o over-complicating, an important lesson.
Though I liked how Villarreal defended in the center throughout a majority of the game, I also disliked the patience. It's good to have it, but for me, they overdid it. As a consequence, they were forced into unnecessary long balls that complicate life for them.
Fortunately enough, Barcelona often lacked the final move – may it be the pass or the goal. They had some shots. But they went wide – something Xavi could not control yet it remained to be understood how these misses keep reappearing w/o a logical explanation.
One of the issue w/ Eric Garcia on the far-right was his ball reception. He often received the ball in isolation ( & his positioning only isolated himself). I believe this to be his worst ball-receptions in a while, making it easy for Villarreal to press him.
What I disliked as well is the disassociation between the left and the right in the build-up. Too often did Villarreal manage to isolate Ronald Araujo & Garcia while the left-side of the defense/midfield did little to help them evade the press by making themselves available.
Barcelona was unsure what press to use against Villarreal, meaning that many lanes could not be covered, even w/ the best man-marking scheme. Here, you can see players doing different marking schemes & that obviously descended into chaos for the worst quickly.
On the right, on the center and on the left. It didn't matter who was exactly pressing, the issue persisted. Barcelona failed to cover the man receiving the ball which once again descended into nightmare.

It was not an individual issue. It was a collective one.
Busquets was less influential higher up the pitch. This came as a consequence of Barcelona's inability to build from the back 'naturally' & therefore needed help. Of course, this results in a lack of Busquets higher up which hurt Barcelona when advancing.
Barcelona's shape in the build-up usually looked similar to the one in this screenshot w/ the various factors:

-Overloads in the left w/o necessarily over-depending on it
-Isolate Abde to create favourable 1v1 situation, Garcia intended to build-up for Abde
-Busquets @ key zone
Villarreal very much responded to that intend in a flexible structure that allowed to pressurize the ball receive from either side by shifting the block from right to left according to the situation's needs. Allowed to limit angles & options w/o over-committing.
As a consequence, Barcelona responded by Ter Stegen's aptitude to find Jordi Alba higher up. I fhtere was zone Villarreal handled less well it's that halfway-ish wide zones that allowed Barcelona to combined in 2v2 / 4v4 situations which could be handled w/ better outcome.
#Memphis had the right positioning , but his decision-making was slow and and inaccurate. Where progressing play is a must and acceleration a +, Memphis takes his time (information he should have had in mind prior to ball reception) & VCF have time to adjust.

Barcelona's awareness as a group and as individuals was poor while pressing high (perhaps where it's the most crucial against a team like Villarreal that welcomes pressure!) as the left is more or less covered but the right is forgotten.

Acres of spaces to exploit.
Easy to understand why #VCF liked to attack through the right channel, a combination of targeting Barcelona's weakness in Eric Garcia, but also a lack of press on the right as the block favoured the left during the majority of the game.
But Barcelona had also issues on the left when attempting to recover the ball in their own half. Through hasty decisions & hazardous pressing that to me did not seem collective, a man-marked system failed to close channels down and led to runs that did not block angles.
When Barcelona did indeed break free, they were matched in numbers (sometimes a minority, even!), which surely was a calculation errors – knowing Xavi, this is the exact opposite of his intent.

Sub-par positioning in defense = disadvantage on the ball in the attack.
However this is the type of situation that continued giving Abde a significant advantage. Yes, Villarreal had Barcelona's men covered, but they could not prevent Abde from forcing the 1v1 he so much loved.

And that hurt Villarreal too much. Very mature, though.
Villarreal however found it break free after Barcelona's dispossession as from early in the game, Barcelona had reverted to its habits from the previous years, and that is run back until they would get possession back.

Unnecessary running provoked by a psychological fault.
Koeman instructed the team to do so, and it is still in their heads. The players must learn to not cede to this temptation. This is not tactical, or at least, not entirely. It's mainly psychology: Remember that this era is over, and this will make you run more.
As A.Capellas told his own players: "If you're lazy and you don't want to run, I just need you to do that extra-effort higher up the pitch so you can avoid running all the way to the defense."

It's all psychology, and that will take a while before bad habits will be erased.
A situation that showed certain mechanisms was FdJ's involvement as a right-channel carrier & Depay complemented him well. Only the goal was missing.
What obviously struck everyone ( & me included) is how easily Garcia was pulled out of his zone, forcing Abde to revert to Garcia's original area – losing an attacker out of possession translates into one less in possession as well – certainly not in Xavi's original plans.
My best explanation is that Xavi intended to limit Villarreal in the way it was done against Espanyol & Benfica, but ultimately failed as Villarreal are a different team that could use it to their own advantage. A big lesson for Xavi in the future: No Garcia there.
Despite this experiment turned into an absolute disaster, I like the idea. To my sense, Xavi intended to use Abde higher up & wanted Eric Garcia's reach as a catalyst for it. Only did we know yesterday that the angles of reception prevent that experiment from succeeding.
There's obvious work in set-pieces to be done, too. It's unimaginable that Villarreal's men are free to plant those headers as comfortably as they did in that occasion – a grave lack of awareness in losing awareness.
Villarreal were given more opportunities despite Barcelona acknowledged its issues on the right – despite never fully addressing them.
#VCF discovered that through switches, a new lanes of opportunities between the lines appeared. A lack of awareness for Barcelona once again.
Barcelona had a man-marking pressing system, yet it failed to mark the men that were the most vital. Barcelona urgently needs to fix that against #Bayern, where it's a lack of clarity & awareness that caused yesterday's simple yet recurrent errors.
I don't believe all of that is fixable in one or two days, but I definitely believe that Xavi should re-think his man-marking approach ahead of the club with #Bayern as they would love those opportunities.
At the end of the day, I wouldn't want to blame yesterday's abysmal performance on any particular individual. In many cases, individual made mistakes based on the collective's issues, and both cannot be disassociated. Xavi tried some ideas, and they failed. Learning process.
I expected the game v Villarreal to be difficult ("Bauchgefühl in german – literally feeling from the stomach – meaning you just feel it) yet I didn't expect to see Garcia in that role. But it's not all negative. I'm glad Xavi recognized his errors & it's okay to do so.
Barcelona fans should be proud of some individuals (i.e Abde), or that the team managed to take the three points despite it could/ should have done much better. It's important to move forward & take the lesson (as Xavi has admitted).

End of thread. Hope you enjoyed it.

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Atalanta – 6 pts
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