FC Barcelona: Is 4-2-3-1 the future?

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JULY 05: Jordi Alba poses during his official presentation as the new signing for FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou Stadium on July 5, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Greetings folks,

So the headline is self explanatory but there are a few thoughts running around in my head. First off, I am and will probably always be a huge fan of the 4-3-3. In my mind, that formation (when played in the Barca way) requires a mix of courage (to play only one DM), versatility(from every player) and tactical discipline especially when the team is defending.

Pressing to regain possession is a double edged sword. On the one hand, chances of getting the ball in the opponent's half pays dividends for a quick counter attack but the risk of players being caught out of position and hence open in the back is high.

Hence, most coaches (not named Pep Guardiola) would opt for the 4-2-3-1. Jose Mourinho with Real Madrid has used this formation for a while now. It is safer (naturally,with 2 DMs) but it also restricts fluidity in the team. In fact, the creativity itself is restricted to the front 4 in general.

The reason Im writing all this is cause I believe, Barca might be set up to play a similar way with a few tweaks. One of the few arguments against the purchase of Jordi Alba has been that Barca might lose balance with two extremely attacking full backs like Dani Alves and Jordi Alba. That said, most of us seem to agree that alba will make Barca's game less predictable because the team will have a real,direct threat down the left flank.

Moreover, Alba's ability to link up with Xavi and Iniesta has shocked fans around the world. Spain's Euro campaign seemed to be all about quick 1-2's between Iniesta and Alba to create space. So, If that is what Barca will look like next year, what about the defensive part of our game?

Dani Alves, despite popular belief, is a phenomenal defender. Giving him some leeway for his natural attacking instinct, the few times Pep has instructed Alves to stay back(in the Clasico), he has owned Ronaldo and covered his side really well. Basically, Alves is no Marcelo. Although, he does get caught out once in a while, its nowhere as frequently as his Brazilian team mate.

From the little I have watched of Alba over the last year or so, he is very similar to Alves. The Catalan left back is infinitely better at attacking than he is at defending.However, his defensive capabilities (and price) are probably what tipped the balance in his favour over say, Gareth Bale?

However, will Tito use two defensive midfielders to allow for two attacking full backs? or maybe even Busquets alongside Xavi?

As I write this, I have my doubts as well. But with Keita gone, and the media largely agreeing that Barca will be looking for a player like Javi Martinez(who is a DM and can play as a CB), is it possible that Tito plans to play the 4-2-3-1? Is that the future?

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