When teams try to defend Barca by parking the bus, they defend the area messi plays in. Usually the CF role(Zonal Marking the centre). In the Inter - Barca 1st leg, Messi was behind Ibrahimovic, and it turned out to be even worse than Messi being in the CF role! as Ibrahimovic occupied the space that was meant for Messi, and Messi occupied no part of the attack. Hence inter didn't have to mark Messi. If Messi had shifted into the RW role, the game would have been much much different as the right wing would have warranted more defending as there was space for Messi. And If Messi had been a team player and started crossing/ shooting at goal from the right wings then maybe Barca would have won. But then again Guardiola got his tactics wrong. <strong>Messi should never play behind another striker unless its an open game. </strong> Games where Messi has been left to fill Xavi's role in the last minutes have seen Messi lose control of the midfield. IMHO
<strong>This was the formation:</strong>
Just look at the formation (LINK)
<strong>The lack of Depth and Plan B in the CF role:</strong>
<strong>If Messi could play on the RW, teams would have to seriously consider marking the RW and Central areas of their defense.</strong> Defending the central area against Barca is very key because it will eliminate Xavi!, so even if Messi went to the RW it wouldn't mean that the central would be clear, but it would be much more free. <strong>When teams park the bus, all Xavi ends up doing is passing the ball to the wingers, the LW and RW and the wingers try to cross in for short Messi or they pass it back to Xavi or they pass it to the LB/RB. This is what uses up most of our possession when teams Park the Bus. Xavi becomes contained. And the opposing team gives up on the possession</strong>. On top of that, Messi won't be getting the ball in the centre, so he will move back to get it, but then he only ends up losing it or passing it - And then goes back into the central trap.( This happened in the Sevilla game and Busi's failed pass to Messi led to a counter goal) <strong>Under Parking the bus, as long as a good team ignores the other attackers(Fabregas and Sanchez) and marks the central area where Messi is, Barca can barely score.</strong> This was evident in the Chelsea away game, when the defenders, along with the three holding midfielders, didn't move to the RW or LW when Sanchez or Iniesta recieved the ball. They also completely ignored Sanchez and Fabregas' runs into the box. It was a risk, but it paid off for Chelsea as Sanchez and Fabregas both got chances but they squandered them(Fabregas not used to such situations and Sanchez being Sanchez). Guardiola was counting on Sanchez and Fabregas to provide the goals, but they are not natural strikers. And Di matteo was counting on Messi not getting an open goal scoring opportunity. The other auxiliary strikers Barca had were considered useless by the Chelsea coach. I seriously doubt that If Villa was rumoured to be on the line up( If he was healthy) Di Matteo would have blundered to ignore El Guaje. It wouldn't have worked. Thats how important it is to have a natural striker upfront.
<strong>Take a look at the formation:</strong>
Just look at the formation (LINK)
Therein lies Barca's problem, the whole notion of a false nine works when the team is playing an open game, or isn't facing a really top notch defending European side like Inter or Milan. When we verse teams that park the bus, especially foreign teams, Barca has a problem scoring because Messi cannot score. Last season we failed to win alot of away games because Messi was our only threat in attack, and the others who were available were not natural strikers. They seemed to just pass the ball back when they got it. Barca plays with a RB that acts as a winger, and RW/LW who is supposed to play as a wide foward but is forced to play as a winger because of the parked bus. Yet they do not have a tall player in the CF role. I am not suggesting that Barca get a taller striker, but I suggest Barca start using the front 3 attackers as strikers. Or two strikers upfront. The Midfield and defense could provide the wing play and with a focus on Tiki Taka, and more shooting, Barca would win easily.
The CF role is the only role where Barca is lacking. Here are the players we have:
Villa will rarely get into the position and Fabregas isn't a natural striker. Fabregas isn't the person I want in the false 9 role when we need a crucial away goal in the Champions League, I want Villa.
a Villa-Falcao-Messi front 3 would be very hard to Mark by teams that park the bus, let alone normal games. It would be a defensive head ache. It would mean zonal marking the whole defense IMO(Which is crazy). And would be the very best front 3 in Europe. This front three will also enable Messi to score as he has never scored against Chelsea, and has a very bad record against Italian teams. He shouldn't be in the CF role in the tight away games. Every team knows he plays here, and they try with varying levels of execution, to zonal mark the centre. This season it has been very obvious with even our own La Liga teams playing like this.
a Villa- Falcao-Messi front 3 with minimal wing support from Alves and Alba would be seriously better than a Tello-Pedro-Messi-Sanchez front 4 that we have witnessed in recent games. It would be disastrous for the opposing team to leave any space on the RW and CF and LW. Any sort of zonal marking would be a head ache.
And then comes Barca's other problem in attack
<strong>Long Range Shooting:</strong>
Barca players don't want to enter the goal with the ball, they just want to pass it to Messi even when they are in the box(exception, Pedro, Villa). The only players that have the Balls to shoot the ball from outside, are Xavi, Alves and Villa. Barca needs to add the element of shooting from outside the box. <strong>The funny thing is Messi used to do this when he was on the RW!</strong>. When teams play defensively, Xavi hates it so much, he gets frustrated and hits a shot or two at the goal. Truth be told he is not a natural but he has shot from outside of the goal to save us several times. Barca just pass the ball to the wings, when passing it to Messi has failed, and this earns possesion, but wastes alot of time as the wingers just pass it back or send it to the LB/RB. Barca wingers need to start passing it back/ set it up for shots outside the box from Capable players. The RW or LW could also be very could positions for shooting in from long distances as Adriano, Tello, Villa and the old Messi in RW goals have proved.
<strong>Conclusion</strong>: Most people say that we lack a plan B in the formation, but I like to think, with the Barca Philosophy, we should focus more on the players. The CF role is the only role where we have no Plan B at the moment. Yet that shouldn't be the case.I think our attack is too focused on Messi that it enables him to break all the goal scoring records but doesn't enable the team a plan B when teams kill him off. And Messi cannot single handedly win Barca La Liga and Champs League, even if he hits 60 goals in a single season. Last year was proof for that. I think if Messi hit just a meager 40 goals or even 50 goals, Villa hit 30 , Pedro hit 22, and Barca won all the trophies, it would be better than Messi hitting 80 goals and Barca winning only the Copa Del Rey!