02/03/13 – Real Madrid vs Barcelona (La Liga)

Real Madrid (4-2-1-3) vs BarcelonaReal Madrid and Barcelona have played each other so often in recent years that attempting to offer a new insight into the tactical battle is all but impossible. The match will be the usual contest between Madrid’s physicality and Barcelona’s technical quality, quick counter attacks versus patient possession football. No ‘Clasico’ is ever played without purpose but with Barcelona having all but secured the league title and important Champions League fixtures coming up for both teams, this game certainly lacks the fixture’s usual edge.

Therefore rather than previewing the game I have decided to consider a tactical ‘Plan B’ for either team, or how the inclusion of specific players could add extra dimensions to their approach. Should Jose Mourinho wish to add extra depth to his midfield he could select Luka Modric in the advanced midfield position who would offer more tactical flexibility than Mesut Ozil. Modric was signed in the summer to supposedly offer such an option, but as yet he has struggled to hold down a first team spot, yet against Barcelona his ability to play in deeper areas would surely be an asset. For Barcelona Tito Vilanova, or in his absence Jordi Roura, can look to add more verticality by selecting Alexis Sanchez or David Villa on the left wing to mirror the direct running of Pedro on the right. As the 2-0 defeat to AC Milan demonstrated, at times the Catalan’s can lack penetration when they pack their midfield and forward line with playmakers.

Neither of these options are radical nor are they even untried by either manager, but they are a divergence from both Mourinho and Vilanova’s first choice XIs… (Read more)

03/02/13 – Valencia vs Barcelona (La Liga)

Valencia vs BarcelonaValencia have been one of Barcelona’s trickier domestic opponents in recent years, although given that Barcelona beat them 5-1 only last season there is still a sizable gap between the two sides. Previous manager Unai Emery was keen to press Barcelona high up the pitch but the huge reserves of energy required to maintain this for 90 minutes, allied to the quality of Barcelona’s players, have generally made this strategy unsustainable. Barcelona’s gameplan will be their usual – Tito Vilanova has returned formational stability to a side that began to experiment tactical under Pep Guardiola – but Valencia’s recent turnover of managers makes their approach less certain… (Read more)