Apr 032012

Barcelona – Unbeatable or not?

After a 0-0 draw with Milan in the first leg of Champions’ League quarter finals, both Barcelona and Milan have everything to play for in the return leg.

Tactical systems, as you all know, are something I am very skeptical about. I am a believer that formations change, depending on the moment and, undoubtedly, the opposition.

Take a flying formation; wouldn’t that also change, depending on how the enemy attacked? Or a chess game? Undoubtedly, both your tactics and formation will (and must) change, depending on your opponents tactics and ability.

As I have been taught by my mentor, Benito Floro, chess is an excellent strategic game to play and one to compare with football. Indeed, Benito’s interest in rugby has flattered me, and his keenness for me to teach him rugby tactics. Incredibly, Benito first thought there were few tactics involved in rugby, until he discovered there were at least as many as those of football!

Regardless of the result tomorrow, 90 minutes of football also depends heavily upon luck – and I am still amazed by the tactical lessons people try to teach us, which exclude luck.

In any event, Barcelona have made a 4-3-3 system famous. However, when I read tomorrow’s line-up, I’d argue that their system is not really 4-3-3 despite the fact that, nominally:  Puyol-Macherano-Pique-Alves are in defense, Busquests-Xavi-Inisesta are in midfield and Cesc-Messi-Alexis are in “attack”.

In fact, to start off with, all three “forwards”, for me, are midfielders, thus making it a 4-6 formation. On top of that, any of the 6 (or 10 for that matter) can suddenly take the role of centre-forward, with even Pique or Puyol tearing forward on occasions – which would make any “traditional” football manager lose his hair…

The fundamental and unique success of Barcelona is that all 10 players defend – and all 10 attack. Guardiola has found 10 players whose work rate is such that they are capable of fulfilling roles, making the Barcelona system or formation, in reality: 1-10. The essence of modern football is exactly this. No player has a defined position or role. All must be prepared to adapt as the script, luck and score dictates.

Clive Jagger – Spanish Football

  2 Responses to “Football Tactics – how not to understand them!”

  1. im a former semipro soccer player and coach. after my soccer career ended, i became a professional poker player from 2005-08. i think the luck factor you are referring to in soccer is comparible to that in poker, if youd like more insites on my theory on the links between the two games let me know.



  2. [...] systems, which can easily suit certain players – and others not so much.  Have a look at Football Tactics and How not to Understand Them and an article I wrote about The Death of the Classic No. [...]