Real Betis – F.C Barcelona: First defeat under Xavi: What went wrong, how to use Barcelona's weaknesses & interesting substitutions.


1/ Real Betis cut off access to Busquets by playing two forwards between Araujo/Lenglet & Sergio. Full-backs were also man-marked, leaving Barcelona w/ the following question:
"How do we advance from there?"

They found the answer after a while: Patience to move Betis.
2/Barcelona exploited the principle of "Pass in front->receive->pass back-> advance", which resulted in a good occupation of space Real Betis left open, but the efficiency in the last few actions still lacks, unfortunately.

Time is given, and space is created.
Barcelona come in advanced positions w/ positional advantage – w/ correct structure (&stretch the pitch), but wrong decisions:
-Wrong communication (Abde received while backing out instead of advancing, w/ negative body orientation)
& space in the wings is not well-used.
Abde doesn't seem to be interested into furthermore exploiting the wide free spaces (& prefers to drift inside where Betis defend the best, instead of wide weaker areas). Easy for Betis to defend, limiting options & forcing Barcelona back (gives time to reorganize!).
Memphis receives in advantage w/ time after a body feint to received between the lines, but the team nor him are ready for the next move: Forced to go back. No proper options & he doesn't know what to do w/ the ball => Easy to defend against despite the holes of Real Betis.
3/Barcelona failed to complete its intended overloads. Those attacks of space have to be accurate, and Coutinho as well as others are not accurate in their positioning – they run every now and then, but a proper sequence lacked – without accuracy, overloads aren't as productive.
Coutinho received in the right space at the right time and had indeed scanned his environments prior to reception, yet fails to register the information of the Betis player marking him – his movement is slow & loses possession where it could have been progression.
Barcelona's back-line relied on anticipation (as expected!) but failed to implement it, through miscommunication and lack of interpretation. Real Betis' forward accelerate faster than Barcelona and take advantage of space behind their backs.
Massive improvement needed.
Barcelona's based structure remained similar in possession and that is not necessarily negative. However Barcelona failed to sync after stretching the pitch as the full-back's reception was followed w/ inaccurate movement, often remain still too far as passing outlets.
What's curious is that there were 1v1 situation Coutinho found himself where he could get passed his marker despite not being his main asset, but he often, like Depay, failed to release the ball at the right time, to the right teammate. Overcomplication is a big issue for both.
Barcelona did find situation in the left-flank where they had space + time but sub-optimal decision-making (on&off-the-ball) failed to convert the positional advantage.
It is not an issue of the individual, but an issue of a team not synced.

Alba's run is ignored.
Some could blame Coutinho (criticism deserved!) but I've also highlighted Abde who earlier did the exact same double error (drifting in where it's the most compact & ignoring the wide run off the ball of the respect full-back in Alba & Dest).

These are awareness issues.
Though Coutinho is much older than his teammate Abde, both lack equally so in their maturity (Abde deserves softer criticism for his younger age, but the point stands). That both found more advantage in drifting in where Betis were focused is incomprehensible.
With that said, Coutinho's shot here is amazing & horrible at the same time. He feints through a fake shot to send his rival sleeping, but he also made the ball reception harder for him (once again, lack of information despite scannning!) & of course the
Barcelona's press was difficult to understand: A willingness to press high by some, but not by others. Losing men + energy quickly here, Xavi will want to fix it. Press is important here as it would avoid most of Barcelona's consequential defensive transitional issues.
Emphasis on body reception: It is not only Coutinho. Several other players lacked awareness/responsibility yesterday. And these few details can give extra seconds that change the situation in its entirety. Xavi will have to work on maturing his players in this aspect for sure.
Fortunately for Barcelona, Real Betis also replicated the mistake of unconvinced & non-sequential press, which bought Barcelona time & tired Betis & eliminated the forward lines w/ very little action.

Real Betis might want to fix that: Accuracy & dedication is primordial.
Many like to repeat that Dest does not receive the ball in favourable conditions (& they're not wrong!) but a case should be made for Dest failing to make himself available. He needs to be ready to receive the ball & dare to run more – only then will he receive well.
Real Betis continued to give Barcelona the midfield, which is incredible. It gave Barcelona a lot of time to configure their next action w/ time & therefore created space is easily. Prop to Memphis who did well in body feints to drop deep to receive the ball & continue play.
Though Barcelona did not make it as difficult for Abde as seen in prior matches, yesterday was a moment where Abde often received in horrific situations. Nico still needs to make himself available after passing instead of standing like a goal post (reminds me of Arthur!).
Many on here used to blame Araujo for his lack of progression in-possession, but rare are those that point out how often he's making himself available as first progressor to Ter Stegen. And that says a lot, and he was splendid, sprinting back to help Mats progress.
It seemed as Real Betis had already given up on pressing Barcelona correctly. Busquets is given his favourite context, that of receiving the ball, turning & eliminating opponents & find a direct outlet in Gavi who helped the team travel an immense distance.
Something I struggle to understand w/ the persistence to continue through the left is that while it optimizes the situation for Gavi, it's also a waste to not use how Nico Gonzalez moves w/ the ball to unbalance the opposition (weak in the right-space), combine w/ Dest & Abde.
Here's another instance where Barcelona used more feints w/ body orientation, allowing to confused Betis & giving total space in wide areas, & Coutinho's shot is almost in – it's part of the thing that cannot be controlled, where it goes or it doesn't.
Problems in transition began when Barcelona failed to anticipate (i.e Depay, who sees his reception intercepted) & Barcelona don't register the information of where to block & end up confused & Betis have clear lanes of attack – too many runners to handle.
Barcelona managed to tilt the game in its favour through the substitutions of Dembélé & FdJ – key difference makers & unfortunately a goal didn't arrive, but Barcelona used Betis' weaknesses much better to my sense. With that said, massive improvement are needed.
The back-line needs to sync with the rest of the team, just like any other area, both offensively and defensively. It failed to intercept key targets in the middle of Betis' counter-attacks (& pressing inaccurate – big difference-maker!) & it failed to communicate.
The midfield was mostly rightly used in the left, but the right remains a ghosted outlet despite the presence of Abde & Nico – which is hardly understandable. I hope to see more of it in the future, as I believe it would be key to do so.
A lot of improvement is not only needed collectively, but also individually. Many players do mistakes that are easily fixed (w.r.t body orientation, or simple sync) & would only demand little work. It's mostly syncing that will prevent & create chances on a bigger scale.

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More from @__ElJdP

3 Dec
Manchester United – Arsenal: About a lack of organization, mentality, game tilt & why the score doesn't reflect the performance by either team.


[THREAD] Image
Arsenal started the first minutes well off, unafraid to press United high. Carrick's men found it difficult to find passing outlets to evade the press. Arsenal were compact and high, cutting connections for the backline to advance to the midfield – improvement needed for ManU. Image
It was easy for Arsenal to isolate Manchester United. Without any midfield options, the back-line panicked for simple pressures that could be overcome with some reasonable amount of structure / pre-defined roles. Yesterday, that did not seem to exist for the hosts. Image
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28 Nov
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.
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24 Nov
Success in failure and why yesterday's draw was beautiful in its own way.

Similar patterns repeated right away as Demir and Alba were tasked as width-holders on either wing, both with significant responsibilities they managed well. Gavi once again enjoyed runs in his opponent's blind-stop, helping Barcelona open up – i.e Nico in this situation.
Benfica pressured Barcelona well in the opening phase, but Lenglet's outreach combined with his teammates dropping deep meant that Benfica's pressure could easily be bypassed without losing too many men in advanced zones. A pattern Xavi's team @ Al-Sadd shared.
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23 Nov
Football's cruel, even at youth level. Barcelona's Juvenil A lost 3-0 to Benfica. Though the result suggests uncontested dominance, Barcelona's first half only lacked very little to change the game. Notably that most of Juvenil A's players are born in 2004 (1y younger than me!).
The group was very difficult for Barcelona. Benfica & Kiev have been impressive throughout the campaign. Estanis was the highlight just like Casado: The former for his 1v1 attempts, the latter for his regular line-breaking passes – Casado has done it all season.
The result feels very harsh. Barcelona only lacked v little in the first half and the punishment was very cruel. That's just how football is – fairness/deserving doesn't mean much, hence terms I tend to avoid. It's all about key moment that were on Benfica's side today.
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23 Nov
Curious about Atalanta's Sidibe & Panada concerning possible opportunities w/ the first team in the near future, especially after today's display. Both have been amazing for Atalanta's U-19.

Sidibe is really interesting btl to break the opposition, Panada to stabilize deep.
Both are standouts in the domestic league as well w/ pretty good numbers, too. Key 2-3 win away from home for Brambilla's boys. Tonight's win leaves the Young Boys alone while Atalanta can still hope to qualify as United netted a last minute winner to make it 2-1 v Villarreal.
United – 12 pts
Villarreal – 10 pts
Atalanta – 6 pts
Young Boys – 1 pt

Looks v unlikely as Atalanta were dominated by United on both occasions (2-1 & 4-2, United clear on paper & on the field) while they lost 2-0 against Villarreal. Very hard to see them winning these fixtures.
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22 Nov
This is why I love this app. The support on the last thread(s) has been immense, even overwhelming.

It's that type of messages that motivate me to continue what is just the start of this adventure. Image
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Tonight seems to be the #PraiseDay ...absolutely blessed to have you all.
Don't even know how to thank you. Image
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