I came across alot at the time of our late dip in form last season. Some said it’s the defense, others said fatigue, and some had just labeled it a ‘bad patch‘. There was only one, I repeat ONE possible explanation to Barca’s form after the streak. Here it goes.
Things took a turn the last time we played Madrid at home. We were knocked out of formation and positional play. A Cruyff inherited technique we’ve followed for THREE decades, and suddenly … CRAP! Makes no sense.
I chose to chart my idea on a rough lineup. Key:
Blue arrows = Fullbacks’ movement.
Red = Midfielders’ movement.
Black = Leo’s movement.
It all cracked when Leo moved to the center, opening up the flank. Alves was BOUND to cover up and provide width. It’s important to note here, Messi did NOT track back to his original position. He stayed his ground behind the two forwards. This means he was NOT ‘cutting’ perpendicularly. He was actually playing an attacking midfielder. This was the reason why you hadn’t been seeing much of Alvessi lately. No quick passing or one twos. Less pace and proportionally less threat at RW. Alves was forced into that position. As soon as we lost the ball to the opposition, Alves tracked the WHOLE flank back. He got beaten by forwards faster than him. At the Clasico, he actually put up a decent display pocketing Ronaldo the whole time, however, he was caught off guard at one moment. ONE!
Shifting to the opposite flank, Neymar had been playing his same original role, but had been drawing more defenders. That’s because Leo was now at the center marked by ONE opponent’s CDM. He wasn’t much of a threat here. Soon as Neymar lost the ball, we found ourselves pushed down from the left. Alba’s pace covered it up for him and the rest of us, but he strictly lacked physique. That’s where he was beaten.
Our original midfielders with Leo drawing in, were left with little choice. They advanced to populate the box in an attempt to open up the opposition’s defensive lines. When they couldn’t, they found themselves passing the ball around it. No shots, no aerials, nothing. Why? That’s because we would lost the ball that way and will had to start all over again to build up the play. Talking about Suarez as an original STRIKER there, found himself trapped within 5 defenders with literally ZERO space. You expected him to work wonders there? Nah!
You see how a single person’s movement affects the formation. We had suddenly been down to THIS without a notice. The sooner Lucho realised he needed to shift Leo back to his original RW role, the better it got. Just like he did last season. Those were his tactics you fans never complained about. That’s because his positioning system was PERFECT! Perfect until this year’s 39 games unbeaten streak, when he called it off.
Leo is better off as a RW. Some of his goals last season came SOLELY off that position. CDR final against Bilbao and the two against Bayern to name a few prominent ones. He CUT in from that position for all 3, but NEVER left it. That’s where we triumphed.