Barca is still the best team in the world. But It has been left behind by the football world. Teams have learnt how to beat Barca by congesting the Center where Messi plays. Pep's false 9 role for Messi means that If a team can stop Messi from freely moving in the centre, he will not be able to score but it also means that If teams can also additionally rough up Xavi with their CDMs, Barca wont be able to win. Most people only see Messi not being able to do his signature runs and dribbles but they forget that whenever a team successfully defends Barca, they also nullify Xavi. They do this by sending -preferably- CDMs to rough up Xavi and stop him from passing.
HOW THEY DO IT(basically what they do):
- Congest the center of the pitch and wait for Messi to bounce around pretending to be shifting positions only to get back into the center. They always wait for him
- Send CDMs to rough up Xavi and stop him from passing
- Press for the ball from Messi when he goes back to try and get space.(This has enabled teams to score easily)
- Ignore other attacking options( Chelsea ignored Sanchez and Fabregas last season and just focused on Messi)
why it works for them, and why it works better when we put Messi in the center:
Congesting the middle of the pitch and defense is efficient because, the goal itself is in the center. By putting most of their resources infront of the goal it makes it hard for a team to score. And when Barca puts Messi in the False 9 role, its supposed to make it easier for him to score. But if a team parks a bus, he cannot score because there is no way through.
WHAT WE HAVE BEEN DOING TO COUNTER IT:
- Keep Messi in the center where they want him
- Play Midfielders in attack
- Play Sanchez
- Bring Villa on in the last minutes for mission impossibles
Trivia: Messi has never scored against a parked bus from his center play. Only from the RW, and that was against Celtic last yr, but we still lost because it was too late. His run against Madrid in the CL semi final was against a 10 man Madrid so it doesnt count.
Here it is, Villa's introduction in the center made Celtic think twice about defending Messi. He was completely forgotten!!
Anyone who knows Messi from his earlier days knows Messi's dribbling and pace is most deadly from the Wings. His famous solo goal against Villareal was from the Wings, his famous dribbles in the Sixtuple season were from the wings. And anyone who remembers the Sixtuple winning team remembers how it was virtually impossible to beat. According to Wikipedia, Pep started experimenting with the false 9 role in the Chelsea games where we struggled to win.
WHY MESSI SHOULD NOT PLAY BEHIND A CF WHEN TEAMS PARK THE BUS:
It doesn't work because the front striker ends up congesting the center more. And it increases the risk of us losing the ball in the midfield because Messi has a knack for knocking his first touches away. It also means its easier for the Opposing team to shut us completely out because our best finishers(Messi and Villa this season) are both in the central trap. Along with our best CM, Xavi.
Another qualm I have is Iniesta's role with Fabregas. They end up wasting possession by passing around and congesting space. Our team fromation has looked blunt and slow without urgency, when these two play. And last night it just showed because we couldn't penetrate the Madrid defense at all. It was like we our possession play was part of their defense.
On the left is our blunt formation, on the right is a well organised Madrid. You can from this excerpt, clearly see that Iniesta(8) and Fabregas(4) were colliding in their positions. I don't think Fabregas should be in Iniesta's place when teams park the bus. And Iniesta isn't lethal enough for attacks needed when teams park the bus.
Also our LB and RB both attacking is suicide. 2 Barca defenders are not enough to stop counters from well organised teams.
WHAT WE SHOULD DO WHEN TEAMS PARK THE BUS:
Villa has been our best player of the Copa Del Rey this season. He scored 5 goals while being the most subbed on and off player, more than Messi and Sanchez combined.
The first excuse was that he wasn't yet match fit, then when he got match fit, we continued playing him off the bench. What did he do to deserve this mistreatment. Why do we give Sanchez chances when we have a man that can save us? Why do we keep playing midfielders in attack when we have the second best finisher in the game(behind Falcao).
And then we always put him in the last minutes of the games to save us. This is worse than Kaka's situation at Madrid. Barca owe Villa a place in the team and an apology because he helped us win the Champs League in 11. He accepted to leave Valencia where he was a God to come to Barca and rule the world with a great football family. But now they want to kick him out. Unlike Sanchez Villa actually worked and proved with trophies why he deserves a 1st team place
- Not Play Sanchez:
- Use the classic Sixtuple formation with Messi on the RW and Villa in the CF, with either Tello or Pedro in the LW. It will make Congesting the center pretty useless.
- Always try to setup shots from outside especially from the Inside right and Inside Left. Shots from the center will just lead to counters
- LW and RW players should shoot at the keeper when they enter the box Instead of trying to find a magical pass into a congested defense
- Always shoot when we enter the box
- Last and most applicable to Madrid, Have our Defenders send long crosses to our attackers because of the high Madrid defensive line. Madrid seems to be caught offguard by this. But they seem to be prepared for it if its our midfielders that try to cross the ball over
- Chip over the defense instead of passing around the defense for minutes.
- Give our talent a chance.
Conclusion: Einstein said a fool is one that does the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. In the same way that we revolutionised(sic) world football with the false 9 role, we should adapt our now old system while staying true to total football to stay competitive. Barca isnt in a slump as some would suggest, Its stuck in the past trying to conquer the future.
Here is a little Ronaldo to cheer everyone up before the upcoming games: