Tactical Preview Part 1: El Clásico in a Four Pack

El Clásico.  Or rather the first of four Clásicos.  From a tactical standpoint, this series of matches has the potential to be one of the most interesting in the history of the sport. Barça and Real Madrid are arguably the two best squad’s in the world.  To play this often in such a short span raises an almost endless array of possibilities for how play will be executed.  (For a review of both squads base systems and how they line up against each other see part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4 of the preview from the first Clásico).

Celebrating with Five Fingers

Since that first match Real Madrid have learned how to play with each other in a more cohesive, integrated fashion.  Barcelona has continued to play brilliant football building up a formidable eight point lead but also suffering significant loses to injury along the back line which creates a clear, new vulnerability that was not present during the first leg.

That said, the primary tactical question headed into this match is the same question that shaped the first Clásico of the season at Camp Nou.  How will Real Madrid defend the Barcelona attack?  It is this question which has the most uncertainty and variables that may change. And given the overwhelming result of the first match, it is the Madrid defensive system which has greatest need to adjust.

It is very clear that Barcelona has significant issues of it’s own defensively.  They are not nearly as solid defensively as they were before.  However, the fact remains that Barcelona is likely to dominate possession.  And in turn the pressure to defend will remain on Madrid’s side.  Given how unaccustomed Madrid is to not having the ball and the scale of Barcelona victory in the first Clásico, it is the Madrid defensive system which is largest open tactical issue at stake now.  In turn, that’s why I will focus my review primarily on the Madrid defense and the Barça attack.

In the first part of this review, I’ll take a look at some of the key factors that shaped the first Clásico focusing in on the deficits in the Madrid’s team defense that will need to be addressed for them to be competitive this time around and how Barça attacked those deficits by playing to their own strengths.  What Barça did that match still holds many of the key factors to their potential success over the next four matches and also outlines the challenges Madrid faces tactically.  In the next review I’ll take a look at how Madrid’s defense has evolved over the season and how Barcelona can exploit the changes in the Madrid system once more.

 

The Barcelona Conundrum

“Great clubs have had one thing in common throughout history, regardless of era or tactics. They owned the pitch and they owned the ball. That means when you have the ball, you dictate play and when you are defending, you control the space.

-Arrigo Sacchi

Sacchi dictum perfectly describes how Guardiola’s Barça play.  And his formulation also outlines the central problem every team that plays Barça faces, even potentially great ones like Real Madrid.   Barça almost always “owns the ball” and dictates play with it.  In turn that means that most of what the opposition can do is to try to control space.  It’s their only viable option in most cases.

However, if you are a squad that is not good at controlling space then you are at risk for becoming lost and played off the pitch.  This was the fundamental story of the first Clásico this season.  And those factors were why I wrote in my preview of that first match:

Madrid is still a relatively newly assembled team. To date, they haven’t been tested significantly in terms of how they can defend as a unit for two main reasons. First, Madrid has regularly dominated possession and hasn’t been forced to defend for long periods of time. Second, they have scored in bursts, which has allowed them to play with the lead consistently. This has made it much easier for them to defend. As such, Madrid still largely needs to define their defensive identity. Doing so in the Clásico will be a major challenge.

Many of those factors still remain primary questions now as Madrid has continued to dominate possession and score quickly against opponents.

 

Real Madrid’s Defensive System at Camp Nou

The screen shot below summarizes many of the key features for how Madrid defended in the first leg.

Real Madrid's Base Defense Against Barcelona in the First Clasico

Madrid is defending in numbers with a five man back line.  This was one key to their approach – numbers at the back.  However, how that back line is structured is the key.  The four backs are actually playing very narrow in an attempt to clot the middle of the pitch which is a standard tactic against Barça.

Angel DiMaria was charged with marking Dani Alves and tracking his runs forward which is why DiMaria is playing level with the Madrid back four.    Alves in turn essentially turned Di Maria into an auxiliary left back by positioning himself so high up the pitch.  This is the reason why Mourhino initially did not want to play C.Ronaldo in his preferred left wing position.  He didn’t feel C.Ronaldo would track back and didn’t want to leave Alves open as an outlet on the right flank.  Nor did he want Marcelo to have to defend Alves because he wanted his back four to stay narrow to combat Xavi, Iniesta and Messi through the middle.

Notice the gap in space between DiMaria and Marcelo.  This gap develops because the backs are trying to stay narrow but Alves is insisting on playing very wide.  This gap would be one that Barça would exploit over and over that match.  This is one area where Barça will look to attack again if Madrid cannot find a solution.

Madrid are also playing a relatively high back line and off side trap at the back.  However, their more advanced players are not pressuring the ball.  A high back line without pressure on the ball is not a viable defensive strategy.  And Barça exploited this all match relentlessly.

Xabi Alonso is tracking Messi’s run.  Alonso was charged with marking Messi between the lines when Messi drifted right.  This was another major problem for Madrid.  Alonso simply does not have the foot speed to defend Messi, especially in the open field.

In the shot above, Messi is in the process of dragging Alonso all over the pitch and out of position.  Alonso’s foot speed and defensive ability were weaknesses Messi exploited to set up Barcelona’s third goal.  Barça  at large and Messi in particular attacked this space between the lines relentlessly all evening.  If Real Madrid has a chance to beat Barça in the coming matches they must address this space on the pitch.

Oezil played a varying role defensively while he was on.  He was often stationed high up the pitch in the center between C. Ronaldo and Benzema so that he could mark Busquets and not given him space on the ball.  Other times, as in the still shot above, Oezil dropped back to track Xavi.  However, while Oezil is tracking back he did not implement high pressure.  This may have been due to his lack of conditioning, a problem which has gotten significantly better over the season.  However, Oezil still is not a great defender.

On Barça’s left side of the pitch are perhaps the two primary keys to the entire Clásico.

First, notice how far wide Villa is and how much room there is between Villa and Ramos.  In turn, notice again how wide Alves is on the right.  Guardiola clearly anticipated that Mourhino would want to play his back line very narrow to clot the middle.  In turn he instructed Villa to stay very wide on the left and to make sure that either Pedro or Alves were very wide on the right.  Guardiola’s goal was to try to ensure that there were Barça attackers wide of Madrid’s most lateral defenders.

Madrid have five defenders in the middle of the pitch guarding one Barça attacker.  This inefficient allocation of defensive resources proved to be a disaster for Madrid.

The second factor to notice in the screen shot above is how Madrid have fallen into a “broken formation” defensively.  C. Ronaldo and Benzema are stationed disproportionately high up the pitch waiting to break on the counter as they usually do.  The other eight outfield defenders are clustered together.  Despite the majority of defenders acting together, Madrid are not compact overall.  In fact, a very large diagonal space opens up between Madrid’s top two and their bottom eight.  This is what a “broken formation” looks like defensively.

You simply cannot leave this much open space for Barça to operate.  In Sacchi’s terms, Madrid have lost control of space while also not possessing the ball.  Iniesta is intelligently exploiting this defect by moving into that gap in the broken formation.  In addition, Villa is also positioned along that line for a clear diagonal from Pique who has the ball.  This is disaster waiting to happen.  And shortly it would for Madrid.

Barça exploiting Madrid’s attempt to stay narrow by positioning attackers wide and exploiting the gap in Madrid’s broken formation directly led to Barça’s first two goals.

Iniesta Exploits Madrid's "Broken Formation"

Here is the run Iniesta made to set up Barça’s first goal.  His tactical discipline is spot on.  He has continued to exploit the gap in Madrid’s broken formation to find space.  And then he has utilized the ball to make the “break” in Madrid’s formation even worse.  He has forced Madrid’s LB, CB and two holding players to scramble back.  The Madrid defenders however try to form a fence to contain the ball rather than pressure it to stop the run.  This opens up a large space between that line of four and Carvalho and Marcelo which Xavi exploits to make his own run to score the first goal.

Here is the set up for goal 2:

Villa Maintaing Tactical Discipline to Attack from Wide Resulting in Barca's Second Goal

Madrid are once again attempting to do what most teams (including Mourhino’s Inter) do against Barça – stay narrow and clot the middle.  But movement of Iniesta and Messi have force them to lose all shape at the back.  Ramos has been pulled very centrally by Iniesta’s run – likely a direct reaction to the first goal.

Notice also Dani Alves’ intelligent positioning.  By staying higher up the pitch he essentially forces his marker Di Maria into limbo.  Di Maria does not commit to pressuring the ball nor is he exactly guarding Alves or Pedro.  He’s almost trying to do a little of everything which leaves him doing nothing.  Oezil also though dropping deep is not pressuring the ball.  This exposes Madrids relatively high line.

However, the key aspect to the shot is David Villa’s positioning.  Look at how far wide his is from Ramos.  He has maintained tactical discipline and width despite the ball and nearly every other player drifting to the right side of the pitch.

Xavi – not pressured by any of the four defenders around him quickly sees Villa and send him a diagonal.  Villa then runs onto the ball, skins Ramos who is forced to run back to Villa, and then delivers the cross which Pedro puts into the back of the net for goal two.

The other issue to note in that still shot points out a major problem Madrid have defensively.  Look at where C. Ronaldo is playing.  It is simply remarkable that C.Ronaldo is defending no one as Villa is completely wide open.  He is just standing there at the top of a broken formation watching his team disintegrate defensively.

Barça are outnumbered 6 to 9 in the shot above. But through their intelligent positioning, off the ball movement and rapid ball circulation they are able to overcome that deficit and thwart Madrid’s tactical approach of defending numbers.

 

Conclusion:

By executing it’s template at the highest level, Barcelona attacked nearly every latent tactical deficiency Madrid had in defense during the first Clásico of the season.  No team before or since has explored the weaknesses in the Madrid system in that kind of methodical fashion.

Madrid attempted to defend Barça by defending narrowly to clot the middle, defending in numbers at the back, implementing the off side trap, man marking Messi and Alves and having Oezil attempt to defend Barça’s central midfielders (either Busquet’s or Xavi).  However, Barça countered by creating tremendous width that they attacked off of, exploiting spaces open within Madrid’s broken formation and open between their lines, off the ball movement and rapid ball circulation.

Barça took the ball away from a Madrid  team that is built around having the ball.  And then Barça utilized the ball to control space.

Madrid has evolved as team defensively however and in the next part of this review we’ll take a look at how they have changed.

 

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123 Comments

  1. Nav
    April 15, 2011

    This is a little unrelated but is great news:

    Right Now > Training session. Puyol returns to training with the group. B-players: Oier, Fontas, Thiago and Dos Santos @barcastuff

    • blitzen
      April 15, 2011

      Puyol returns to training with the group.

      YESSSS!!!!! Oh happy day! Calloo Callay!!!!

      • K_legit
        April 15, 2011

        Excuse me while I say
        FUUUCCCCKKKK YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

  2. Humphrey Bogart
    April 15, 2011

    An article in the Telegraph pointed out the our likely starting eleven on saturday coast less thant Crynaldo alone. But even these facts do not prevent them from crying Villarato at every moment, to whinge and complain, it is really unbelievable how low they can sink.

  3. Obii
    April 15, 2011

    Euler, you are a genius. This post is so enlightening, its unbelievable.

    Thankyou.

  4. soccermomof4
    April 15, 2011

    “Madrid has evolved as team defensively however and in the next part of this review we’ll take a look at how they have changed.”

    ay, there’s the rub!

    • soccermomof4
      April 15, 2011

      Welcome, Ahsan 🙂

      The midfield battle was key to last clasico. Busi gave Oezil a terrible time of it and Messi confused the heck outta Alonso and Khedira by coming back into the midfield (IMO). It will be interesting the see how the self proclaimed Special One changes things around and how Barca copes with the loss of Busi as a DM (assuming he’s a CB tomorrow).

      Your Madrid point is welcome, although we can’t guarantee that this will be a morbo-free zone.

      • April 15, 2011

        Um, sorry for the confusion, but I am NOT a Madrid fan. Got chills with you even intimating it. I’ve been around this blog forever, though I comment less than I used to. Still read all the posts though.

        • soccermomof4
          April 15, 2011

          A ZILLION sorries fellow cule.

          Funny thing is, I recognized your name. But I thought you said you were coming from a Madrid point of view and I thought…well, maybe I saw your name while lurking somewhere else. So in my zeal to be welcoming of those less… um… discerning in their choice of team( no offense, Bassam 🙂 ), I did the unthinkable.

          sorry sorry sorry

    • Barcaleya
      April 15, 2011

      Hi Ashan! Loved the article. Shared it on my Facebook. Visca Barca!

  5. Nav
    April 15, 2011

    Also, a lot of you were talking about Villa’s passion after the 4th goal in the last Clasico. Here it is in glorious 1680 x 1050

    http://imgur.com/U7ouR

    • soccermomof4
      April 15, 2011

      Villa was in a slump before his first clasico, then the brace! Let’s hope that history repeats itself!

  6. footballfan
    April 15, 2011

    I really like the second and fourth goal during the manita (the fourth obviously because of an extraordinary assist from messi). For the second goal, I notice that during the build up Barca players passed the ball back and forth heavily on the right side, dragging Madrid players in the process. Then Xavi switched the ball to the other side and it’s a goal.

    A really great tactical goal, if you can call it that way.

    • April 15, 2011

      The second goal was just sheer genius. You’re exactly right. Barca overloaded the right side.

      Anytime you have Alves, Messi, Xavi and Pedro on one side of the pitch with proper spacing it’s just very difficult for the defense.

      But the key to that goal was Villa maintaining tactical discipline by staying wide on the left.

      That’s where he’s at his best – attacking from a wide position.

      He’s gotten away from that since january – he’s been stuck in the middle more and I think he needs to get back to staying wide to open up the middle.

      • footballfan
        April 15, 2011

        Yeah, I think that tactic may still work. It’s all on Pep now to instruct the players how to play.

  7. April 15, 2011

    I heard Lass is not playing tomorrow, can anyone confirm? And great news about Puyol being back in training, if he can make it to the CL semis I will be very relieved.

    • Nav
      April 15, 2011

      I’m hoping he isn’t being rushed. He’s still not match fit so even if he’s 100% I wouldn’t expect to see him for the full 90 in the first Clasico, but maybe he can be subbed in halfway or the 60 minute mark to ramp him up for the CDR final.

  8. Whatever
    April 15, 2011

    Amazing article. Euler, you rule! Can’t wait for the next one.

  9. Alex
    April 15, 2011

    HOLY SHIT. PUYOL JUST RECEIVED THE GO AHEAD FROM THE MEDICAL STAFF TO PLAY TOMORROW, AND HAS ENTERED IN THE “CONVOCATORIA”

    HOLY SHIT!!!! VIA RAC1

    • Alex
      April 15, 2011

      Great news for Wednesday! Doubt he plays tomorrow, maybe subbed in…

    • Jose
      April 15, 2011

      QUUUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

      • Alex
        April 15, 2011

        SI senor! Listening to Peps press conference now. He is ready for tomorrow. Pep has confirmed.

    • Nav
      April 15, 2011

      Very good news.

      I still hope he isn’t rushed, and his lack of match fitness is an issue. But hey, the league game tomorrow is the ‘least’ important, so what better time to gain match fitness back.

    • soccermomof4
      April 15, 2011

      Does he play not being match fit?

      Even on the bench it’s a bonus!

      O my gosh, can this really happen so quickly?

    • Miguel
      April 15, 2011

      Guardiola: “The recovery of Puyol has surprised us. In Donetsk we heard the pain seemed to disappear. We’ll decide tomorrow if he plays.”

    • Blow-Grenade
      April 15, 2011

      EE is gonna shit in its pants when they see Puyol on the pitch. Game over!!!

  10. Roz
    April 15, 2011

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    That is all.

  11. April 15, 2011

    Puyol being back is really phenomenal news. It has a cascading effect on everything else — Busi can be Busi, Mascherano can be a supersub (or tactical game changer), Pique is more like normal Pique etc.

  12. Nav
    April 15, 2011

    I really really hope Puyol isn’t rushed out tomorrow. We need him most in the CL games, so let’s use him as a sub until we’re sure he’s 100%.

    • soccermomof4
      April 15, 2011

      When we rushed to get him ready for Arsenal, he relapsed. I don’t think we will risk him unless he’s 100%. But I so want him back, and Pique needs him back!

      • Nav
        April 15, 2011

        Yeah, I’m hoping they learned from the Arsenal tie and are absolutely sure that he’s healthy and ready to go. As moralising as Puyol’s recovery will be to the team, another relapse would be even worse.

        • April 15, 2011

          Completely agree. I don’t think Puyol will be risked until absolutely necessary.

  13. soccermomof4
    April 15, 2011

    @ Ahsan- sorry again 🙂

    Your article has been bookmarked. Great read btw!

    • April 15, 2011

      Heh no worries soccermom, my wording was a bit confusing, thus an understandable mistake 🙂

  14. Whatever
    April 15, 2011

    This is amazing news.

    Valdes
    Alves – Pique – Puyol – Adriano
    Xavi – Busquets – Iniesta
    Pedro – Messi – Villa

    THEY. WILL. BE. CRUSHED.

  15. Barcaleya
    April 15, 2011

    This is brilliant, Euler! Thank you.

    I hope none of Mou’s cohorts read this and learn from it. I’m hoping they just make these mistakes over and over (although I know they have evolved as you said). Can’t wait to read the next part!

  16. Miguel
    April 15, 2011

    Line-up Barcelona B (official): Masip – Montoya Abraham Muniesa Abraham – Carmona Ilie SergiRoberto – Benja Soriano Nolito

  17. Barcaleya
    April 15, 2011

    I think this is Pep’s great strategy at work…I’m beginning to think we’ll win the crucial games. With Puyol back. And win the titles. Yay yay yay!!!

    • soccermomof4
      April 15, 2011

      from barcastuff, more confirmation:

      Guardiola: “The recovery of Puyol has surprised us. In Donetsk we heard the pain seemed to disappear. We’ll decide tomorrow if he plays.”
      11 minutes ago via TweetDeck

      Holy Cow!

      • soccermomof4
        April 15, 2011

        Geez, Miguelito, you beat me be 3 minutes 🙂

  18. Nav
    April 15, 2011

    Euler, your explanations of tactics is amazing because newbies like me can follow it fairly easily. Thank you for this.

    • soccermomof4
      April 15, 2011

      Am I the only one who thinks, “Oh my gosh, I hope Mou doesn’t notice all the things that Euler does!”?

      • Barcaleya
        April 15, 2011

        I think the same, soccermom 😀

        I just said it several comments up – “I hope none of Mou’s cohorts read this and learn from it. I’m hoping they just make these mistakes over and over (although I know they have evolved as you said). Can’t wait to read the next part!”

        • Lev
          April 15, 2011

          hahaha. with all respect to euler, you are talking about Mourinho here, not Bobby Robson.

      • Miguel
        April 15, 2011

        Thanks for those links to the B-game! 😀

        I’m not getting absolutely anything done today. I love it! It’s Friday, Clásico weekend, gotta pick up fam from airport, and now the B’team´s gonna play!

        And great article, Euler!

  19. Lev
    April 15, 2011

    great news about Puyol. while true that we don’t want to rush him, he needs playing time before the semis which are only just around the corner. With that in mind I think we should indeed take the risk of just that – rushing him.

  20. blaunero
    April 15, 2011

    Tactics mean very little to me, especially in a single match. More important is the overall strategy in the course of this four-game series.
    In the grand scheme of things I’d be more worried if we managed, somehow, to win the game tomorrow. I fear we might get cocky for the CdR final, like we did (at least in my view) when we played at the San Siro vs Inter in the semis. Unlike Cruijff, I think the most important games will be the second and third one. If we lose tomorrow, at least we would still have a 5pt lead as a safety net. We might suffer psychologically but at least we won’t take Mourinho for granted. I have a sneaky feeling that this is precisely what Mourinho is aiming to–he’s priming his strategy to bring the best out of his players in the copa final and especially for the first leg of the CL, the first because he wants at least a trophy in Spain and the second because he will be able to say that he has eliminated us from the CL semis two years in a row.

    • Barcaleya
      April 15, 2011

      I agree that between the 3rd and the 4th game, the 3rd is more crucial. We need lots of away goals there. I really really wish for a win there and if we have to lose, (many) away goals for insurance. I think that if we win the 3rd game – we’re almost set.

    • Ryan
      April 15, 2011

      I see your complacency and raise you a volcano plus 2 day bus ride.

      This isn’t Inter – Barcelona will never become complacent against their eternal enemies. Even if the newer guys might, the veterans like Xavi, Valdes, and Puyol (hooray!) will be there to remind them of its importance.

      I much rather have Madrid become inured to the idea that they can’t win against Barcelona than have them finally win a game vs. us and give them hope. A frustrated TB is a TB who decides to shoot whenever he gets 40 yards from the goal!

      • soccermomof4
        April 15, 2011

        Hard as it may seem, unlikely as some have pointed out, as much as Kxevin wants us to brace ourselves for possible/probable disappointment (thus, is the way of the cule 🙂 ) I want to win ALL 4. And you know what, we just may! You know what else, if we don’t I still love this team!

        Visca Barca i visca BFB!

      • blaunero
        April 15, 2011

        Hahaha. I see your Icelandic volcano and the bus ride and raise you playing Ibra instead of Abidal (the sub Abi-Ibra I think was made deep into the second half when all of Inter’s three goals had already come, ironically all from our left flank) whose inclusion in both games proved catastrophic.
        Anywho. Water under the bridge.
        I hope you’re right, but players are still human, and having already won 5 Clasicos on the trot might think more of themselves. That’s what I think Mourinho will try to do. If he’ll be successful, I’m not sure.

  21. footballfan
    April 15, 2011

    Seems the Puyol news is some sort of a mind-game. Really great news if he will be fit for the CL semis.

    Come on Barca!

  22. April 15, 2011

    Really don’t know what to make of the Puyol news. I wonder if he really is healthy.

    The issue with the tendinitis is pain. Knowing Puyol I could just see him wanting to come back at all costs given the state of depth at center back and what’s at stake over the next three weeks.

    It’s very fortunate that the match tomorrow isn’t a must win for the league.

    If Puyol is in fact healthy enough to give it a shot then trying tomorrow is very beneficial.

  23. Lev
    April 15, 2011

    They are all crucial. Football is very different from American sports where teams play series of 7 and adjust to each other along the way – the main difference being that we are simply not used to 4 game match-ups! Basketball teams know they will win some and lose some in order to finally win the series.

    Also the psychological advantage of beating them in the first game might outweigh the feeling of complacency. I for one would very much doubt any player feeling complacent in a CL semi-final against their archrivals – the tension will be very high even if we were to beat them 10-0 in both previous matches.

    The Mourinho factor comes into play as well. Apart from being a very good tactician his biggest strength is handling their players psychology. That is why if Madrid beat us even once during the first two games he will big up their psyche and bring a mentally top fit EE to the CL. That will be a lot harder to do if we hand them two losses.

  24. Whatever
    April 15, 2011

    Is soccermomof4 == SoccerMom? I’m really confused.

    • Vj
      April 15, 2011

      No, soccermomof4(SoMo4) =/= SoccerMom(SoMa)..

      • Whatever
        April 15, 2011

        Thanks.

        Now I understand some things. 🙂

    • soccermomof4
      April 15, 2011

      soccerMom (SoMa) is a mod who dazzles us with brilliant works of prose and poetry. soccermomof4 (me,somomo, SoMo4) is but a lowly poster who never dazzles and often disappoints :).

      I chose the name because I am a mom of 4 kids who play soccer but you are not the first to be confused. I often wish I could change the name but I don’t think we’re allowed to. If Kxevin or Isaiah allows it I could change it. How does “culemom” sound?

      • Vj
        April 15, 2011

        You know there’s gonna be a ‘culedad’ or a ‘culeson’ once you switch..

      • blitzen
        April 15, 2011

        I love “culemom”! It sounds like a cross between a really cool mom and a Pokemon! 🙂

      • Miguel
        April 15, 2011

        You’re pretty just the way you are, soccermomof4.

    • Miguel
      April 15, 2011

      Boring first half. Armando gave away a penalty in the 27th minute.

      Bleh.

  25. Helge
    April 15, 2011

    Good old times, those were 🙂
    I wonder if the new times will be half as good.

    Thanks for the very enlightning re-cap, Euler. I remember people asking for a tactical review after the Clasico, but you didn’t answer the request.
    Haste makes waste!

  26. Helge
    April 15, 2011

    About Puyol:
    I don’t think he will play tomorrow, and he shouldn’t. Let’s use him as a bonus for the CL Clasicos, when he has regained some more match fitness.

    • Nav
      April 15, 2011

      He can only gain match fitness by playing. I think he should start tomorrow’s game from the bench, and then we reassess how things are and take it from there.

  27. blitzen
    April 15, 2011

    I think Puyol will not start tomorrow, but will get some time in the second half. Or start and then come off in the 2nd half, either way. With all due respect to Kxevin, I knew there was absolutely no way our captain was going to miss all of these important games unless his leg actually fell off at the knee. Just was not going to happen.

    Got home just in time to watch the second half of the Barcelona B game. Who else is here?

    • Miguel
      April 15, 2011

      Maybe me. Second half starts off with the same line-up as the first for Barca.

      Puyol’ll definitely play the Copa.

      • blitzen
        April 15, 2011

        I feel a bit bad that Pep has taken both Thaigo and JDS for the first team, leaving them with a less-than-perfect midfield. It’s not like JDS is going to play, anyway.

        • Miguel
          April 15, 2011

          I´d start dos Santos. 😀 I’d keep my cards close to my chest if I were in Pep’s place. I can see how people think getting a W in the first match would be a huge blow to Real, but you can’t keep pressing like how Barca do, game in game out, with the same players.

    • Ryan
      April 15, 2011

      I’ve got it on in the background, but it’s not really catching my attention.

  28. tutomate
    April 15, 2011

    I’m sick to my stomach in anticipation for the next 4 clasicos. The possibility of winning all 4 is orgasmic, as Ray Ray would say, but the likelihood of loosing even one is gut wrenching. Not to mention loosing the CL tie or even the CDR Final. Honestly I don’t even know what to think, but every clasico gets me this way.

    Anyway I’m going to go get stocked up on Golden Drakees or I’m going to find a place that has it on tap.

    See you guys in 24 days. LOL

    • April 15, 2011

      Bye tutomate. Come back without some kind of stress induced illness, okay?

  29. April 15, 2011

    OH MY GOD. WHAT IS THIS ABOUT CARLES PUYOL BEING GIVEN THE GREEN LIGHT?! HOLY SHI—wait a minute.

    Puyi had bursitis right? It’s no surprise if it did actually disappear–and our club doesn’t usually pull a Wenger–but in my cynicism I feel that either Puyi was being saved for this series of matches (given age and minutes played + WC) or he isn’t really fully fit.

    I’m banking on the former.

    But enough theories from me: PUYI IS BACK, PEOPLE! YEAAAAAAAAH!!

    And an Euler tactical post? BEST FRIDAY SINCE LAST FRIDAY.

  30. Para
    April 15, 2011

    http://www.fcbarcelona.com/web/catala/galeries/futbol/temporada10-11/04/entrenaments/entrenaments/entrenament_15_abril/galeria.html

    (Just in case the link doesn’t work right, it’s the one with Villa, Xavi, and a trainer in the middle).

    I imagine the trainer to be saying, “Look David, this is the post. You get NO extra points for hitting it–in fact, it doesn’t even count as a goal!”

    Villa: “Nooo! Why didn’t you guys tell me this before?!”

    Xavi: (thinking to himself) “Football obviously works differently in Valencia.”

    • blitzen
      April 15, 2011

      You should submit that to Totally Goats! 😆

    • K_legit
      April 15, 2011

      In that third pic..the one that has only Puyol in it..you can totally picture him looking at Queca…

      • blitzen
        April 15, 2011

        Queca was in training today too? Told ya! 😀

        • K_legit
          April 15, 2011

          yeah Queca was resident cheerleader and Captain of the Non-Moc Moc patrol

  31. Diego
    April 15, 2011

    Puyol should play 30 minutes at the end of the match winning or losing to give him match fitness.

  32. Miguel
    April 15, 2011

    Put that in the back of the net, Muniesa!

      • April 15, 2011

        and he’s going to make gifs addicts out of all of us,or be damned!

    • Miguel
      April 15, 2011

      I love the banana peel one!

      And I’ve never seen that Jackass Manita! Hilarious!

  33. Lev
    April 15, 2011

    @soccermomo culemom sounds really dirty. as if you want to be an actress. yes, THAT type of actress. i used to have a roommate who was really into that kind of stuff.

  34. Obii
    April 15, 2011

    Kari, please give me the picture in your gravatar. I will be forever indebted to you.

    • April 15, 2011

      Since I made it myself, I don’t have a url to link it to (I need a url to insert pictures into my comments). I’ll add it in a post sometime and you can just copy it there. Sorry, Obii! 🙁

  35. mardia
    April 15, 2011

    I don’t think Puyol would start the game, but it’d be good for him to come in during the second half to get match fitness. That being said, part of me honestly DOES want him playing the whole match, I think our defense has missed him that much.

    • blitzen
      April 15, 2011

      ??????

      Why would he show up for the press conference and not say anything??? This man is seriously insane. I hope he stays forever! 😀

  36. Dalmar
    April 15, 2011

    More of gloating than the insightful discussions we get used to. Euler conviniently ignore Marcelo’s glaring defensive problems. Look at the third picture, why Marcelo isn’t tracking Xavi especially when he has no one running behind him. The socond goal he was equally guilty, caught ball watching and not knowing where Pedro was. These early goals totally changed the game.

    The bad news for Barca fans is you won’t have Marcelo to exploit.

    • April 15, 2011

      To an extent I think you’re right, Dalmar, but Marcelo’s suckitude IS a RM defensive weakness, right? And clearly, Barcelona exploited it well.

      On a Barca blog you are obviously not going to find the most objective articles, but I think Euler was trying to lay a template for how Barcelona succeeded last time, and will follow up with how it might succeed this time around. The challenge, of course, is that the tactics will change for every game.

  37. 145culegirl
    April 16, 2011

    Great tactical post.As someone said above,I too dont want Madrid to read this.
    I dont have a great tactical knowedge but I think the post means that it is because of the broken defence and Madrid not pressuring the ball led Barca to score.And at the start,it was also mentioned that Madrid first deployed a five-man defence.My query is that if Madrid did not break their defence,would they have gotten a decent score against Barca in the first Clasico?.We all know that Mourinho is a very good defensive tactician.But he got it all wrong in the first Clascico.
    Good news is that Puyol will be back though I stll doubt whether he’ll be made to play the whole match.Pardon me if got the above mentioned doubt wrong.

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