During the trophy laden Pep Guardiola years at Barcelona, the Spaniards were the world’s number 1 team with the Barca team consisting of World Cup and European Championship winners at world level, with the King Lionel Messi as the main driving force behind Total Football.
The question facing all managers prior to facing Barcelona is how to approach the match without fear and trepidation. A system incorporating the team’s tactics has to be addressed more thoroughly, preparation is even more important to go up against the best club side, arguably in the history of football, opinions run rife.
Before the match, any manager has to accept that Barcelona could retain up to 70% ball retention during the entire match, which means a strong defensive unit needs to be adopted at all times, endeavouring to restrict Barce’s movement within key areas of the pitch, areas where they can hurt the team, they have to be nullified. The next question a manager has to address is how can the team move forward as a unit, to hurt them in areas they don’t want the opposition to be in.
The initial pass forward from a defensive position on gaining possession needs to be accurate to allow the team’s forward movement, from a personal point of view, I have focused on the Barce Guardiola years with fascination, outlining a system which I would factor in if the team was about to face Total Football.
Prior to the match, preparation has been prepared on the training pitch, videos of the opposition, players briefed and from the old school, tactics, system highlighted on the blackboard, as the players learn what is required in the team ethic, alongside their individual role in the team system, they have to remain disciplined in their designated areas and to show total belief in the coaches’ instructions. Pre-match preparation takes place with regard to instilling motivation, confidence and self belief, I am not a great believer in sport’s phycologists, it is the coach who understands his players. A surprise element will be put into the team system, a 5-3-2 tactic which at first glance would not reveal anything to the opposition, they would conclude that I will start with a strong defence unit which will provide strength in numbers restricting Barcelona’s movement and space as they look to attack the edge of the penalty area with the three midfield players holding a narrow line in front of the back five to counter intended attacks through the spine of the team. It is also important that their wing play is nullified. The right back would be supported with the nearest covering centre back and vice versa on the left side of the defence the art of doubling up in numbers would restrict their space and cover all possibilities, this would be implemented when not in ball possession.
Part 2 will follow in the Football Column’s next edition. The emphasis will be on the team’s forward movement.
Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham Hotspurs is refreshing for all supporters. The Welshman is world class and deserves the accolades. Gareth has been spending his time on the Madrid golf courses earing his spurs, courtesy of Zinedine Zidane’s lack of respect.
Now it’s time to earn one’s Spurs on the pitch, where it matters, welcome home Gareth.