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Jan 21 23 tweets 9 min read
Athletic Club – F.C Barcelona:
How Marcelino dominated Barcelona and why possession is defending ~


Barcelona intended to build-up as accustomed but unlike previous encounters, access was blocked as early as the first phase of build-up. Neither of Piqué/Araujo pushed back Athletic Club's first line. In turn, that meant no Busquets in build-up & relying on full-backs.
In other words, Barcelona relied on what they could not rely. Full-backs were free to receive but had a natural, physical disadvantage upon ball reception in the 1v1 that the opponent dominated. They did not have the angle nor the time to continue build-up. A mental barrier.
Attempting to evade pressure through vertical play did not benefit Barcelona either. Alba sees his man and launches it precisely, however the ball inadequate reception as a result of the situation translates into ball loss just after ball reception.
Barcelona allowed Athletic Club to exploit indefensible spaces, i.e behind the back w/ natural disadvantage (That of a relatively old back-line, unable to track back) and also let ball receivers time (and potentially space) before deciding. Too many dangerous runs.
That is how the first goal happened, too. Barcelona does not have the players to track back: The current high-line either needs reformation (new players) or needs to readjust out of possession how it reacts (chaotic as per yesterday but not solely).
Barcelona often lost the ball where it could not afford to: Forced to pass back w/o clear options, Athletic Club forced the Catalans deep and it resulted in the Basques closing all angles for any progression. Hence the many dispossession that were to be seen yesterday.
Athletic Club disoriented Barcelona's back-line easily. The Basques had the players to move the ball around through excellent body orientation to switch play to the other wing with Barcelona struggling to keep up. Barcelona needs to learn to not be distracted, from all sides.
Barcelona's set-up didn't facilitate ball reception and therefore progression. Too little movement to make themselves available, Xavi's men invited pressure without genuinely knowing what to do with the ball. Little presence in the center + pushed back on the wings.
It genuinely is both a tactico-technical issue but also a mental block. The solution is unclear but Piqué/Araujo should've definitely brought the ball higher up to push back Athletic Club's first line of pressure, as it would allow more options to build-up & defend against.
Barcelona's issues were mostly w/ the opponent's intensity but it remains to be determined whether Xavi/Barcelona expected that. Athletic Club are known for this set-up (not the first time against Barcelona either!) & I highly doubt the coaching staff did not see it coming.
There were some players who were of course far from their best but in this set-up, the system doesn't facilitate things for the players. As mentioned before, the fact that neither of Araujo/Piqué carried the ball higher-up had severe repercussions on the team's build-up.
It's true that Jordi Alba was far from good enough, as he lost the most possession (33!), but it's also due to the fact he was a frequent target. Athletic Club knew Piqué/Araujo were the solid spine of the back-line, so they found it easier to target D.Alves + Jordi Alba.
Whether instructed by Marcelino or an improvisation, Athletic Club had optimized its resources in order to maximize its chances. It put Muniain(v D.Alves) & Nico(v Jordi Alba) in advantageous 1v1 situations that allowed to cause mental wreck in duels as well.
As Barcelona succumbed to pressure in possession, it was easier to profit from their mistakes from the opponent's perspective. This explains the higher number of shots of Athletic Club (10!) against Barcelona's low record. As a consequence, it's easy to understand the game.
#Barcelona intended to build-up as usual but was met with a wall it could not find the solution to. It therefore lost possession often in dangerous areas (for collective but also individual reasons) & it put the opponent in high confidence from the very beginning.
Barcelona failed to find any sort of chance to nullify and sustained itself through some weak moments of the opponents (as seen v the goal). Some of the long-balls attempts resulted in successful ball reception w/ subsequent build-up in half-spaces but were rather rare.
Players like #Pedri were essential to receive between the lines but as a consequence of lack of clarity, they found it hard to continue play. It remains unclear whether it means Barcelona should put more emphasis on dead balls or on short build-uup probably both!).
Barcelona was unable to set tempo & that translated into reaction instead of pro-action. It therefore depended on the opponent instead of itself as it should aim to. #Ansu was essential for the previous tweet, as he added acceleration as a new mean to move the block.
Barcelona however need to understand control in their own half. Some claim Dembélé would've been useful to disband Athletic Club's organization but he wouldn't have seen much of the ball given the problematic issues in the first phase of the build-up.
#Pique should have been the one to decide to carry the ball further up (would like to understand how come he didn't think of it?) as Araujo is known to not be as able at it just yet. There were too little changes to indicate a change in the mindset of the players.
Both Piqué and Alba resorted to long balls but it also showed that someone like #Garcia helps control on the ball as he's calm and helps break lines when carrying the ball w/ his feet. Barcelona too often resorted to clearances/vertical patterns when stability was needed.
As mentioned, this is an issue for young and old players, no matter the age. It's hard to count anyone's role optimized and it says a lot about yesterday's game, and what went wrong.
Huge praise to Athletic Club who beautifully cancelled Barcelona's plans.

End of thread.

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More from @__ElJdP

Jan 20
Tuned into Galatasaray-Kasimpasa to watch how Domenec Torrent's team is doing in his beginnings. Obvious issues but for sure something to retain is that there are ideas that will need implementation. Of course not a good look to lose 1-3 against Kasimpasa, 15th in the Süper Lig.
One experiment that however caught my eye & @QuanTue pointed out to me is the surprising role given to Patrick Van Aanholt. Found himself at the heart of every progression through the (weak) midfield as the Galatasaray's touchmap above portrays it. For sure an interesting idea.
Kasimpasa enjoyed attacking through the right-wing as Galatasaray were not able to defend well in transitions. Bit of a chaos but I'd assume that Aanholt's inclusion in the midfield is the consequence of Galatasaray being able to progress through the wings, but no the midfield.
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Lucas Boyé:

"The smartest thing a player can do is interpret when to keep the ball for a bit longer and when to release it. Only a handful are able to decipher those moments. I always try to interpret what the game demands but many times I do it wrong."
Every decision of a footballer betrays their state of mind, their understanding, their intentions. In an advanced role like Boyé's where space is scarce, each decision matters as touches on the ball are limited; Which is why he prefers to involve himself in the build-up.
Q: Analysis of your game indicates that 80% of your touches result in threat creation and allows the team to advance. This suggests you tend to choose well.

A: The numbers of course please me. But it's relative. Maybe when we advance, we could advance in another, faster way.
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Dec 5, 2021
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.
Read 30 tweets
Dec 3, 2021
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
Read 31 tweets
Nov 28, 2021
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.
Read 39 tweets
Nov 24, 2021
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.
Read 26 tweets

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