clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Champions League Draw Preview: Barca Blaugranes Scout Report

New, comments
Will Guardiola give a thumbs-up to the draw on Friday?
Will Guardiola give a thumbs-up to the draw on Friday?

With the Champions League draw taking place tomorrow, I have taken the time to compile a scouting report on all of Barcelona’s possible opponents.

Internazionale:

Route to Quarter-Finals:

The holders of the competition have far from impressed in their quest to become the only team to have ever retained the Champions League. In a group containing surprise package Tottenham Hotspur, German side Werder Bremen and Dutch champions FC Twente, they surprisingly finished second. This set up a rematch of last years final and Inter lost the first leg 1-0 at home. They looked all but out but managed to recover to a thrilling 3-2 victory in the second leg, sending them through on away goals.

Key Player:

Samuel Eto’o is of course a former Barca player himself, so it’s safe to say we know all about the threat he can pose. He is joint top scorer in the competition with 8 goals, and was on target on Tuesday in the 3-2 win over Bayern. Back to his prolific best, Eto’o has managed 32 goals and 10 assists in 40 games in all competitions.

Manager:

Leonardo took over on the 24th December after the unsuccessful tenure of Rafa Benitez and has done extremely well since. The 33 points he posted in his first 13 Serie A games with Inter set a new record surpassing the 32 in 13 games accumulated by former Real boss Fabio Capello. He likes to use the 4-3-3 system and this could prove handy for the Blaugrana who famously struggled against Mourinho’s tactics last season.

Tactics:

Inter under Leonardo have shrugged off the title of being an ultra-defensive side and now operate in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Eto’o holding the lone role up front. Wesley Sneijder is the player in the “false no.9” position with Pandev and Stankovic in support. It is a flexible formation that can change to 4-5-1 without the ball and 4-3-3 with it. Expect the 4-5-1 approach if Inter did draw Barca in an attempt to clog the passing lanes.

Manchester United

Route to the Quarter-Finals:

Manchester United are usually one of the favourites for any competition they enter and this has been no exception. However, they have failed to really show why. An unconvincing group stage included narrow 1-0 wins over Rangers and Bursapor as well as a 1-1 draw with the Glaswegians. They beat Marseille 2-1 in the round of 16, but even that was unconvincing.

Key Player:

Nani has been the star of this season’s Man Utd side much to the surprise of everyone. Over-hyped Wayne Rooney has started to find some form recently, but Nani has been the most consistent performer. With 10 goals he even has more than the Englishman. While comparisons with Ronaldo are a bit far-fetched, he is beginning to evolve into a true star.

Manager:

Sir Alex Ferguson is a legend in the game, but that won’t stop me from hating him. He is arrogant, and always blames the ref when his team don’t win. To be honest, I can’t see why he used to be at odds with Wenger when they have so much in common. Whatever your opinion on him, he is one of the all-time greats and will be looking to emulate the treble-winning campaign of 1999, in what could be a fitting end to his career.

Tactics:

Ferguson has experimented a fair bit with his tactics this season, opting for a 4-5-1 approach in “big games”, 4-3-3 against the lesser sides and 4-4-2 more recently. The 4-5-1 is tough to break down, but with Rooney operating as the sole striker, they don’t always threaten themselves. I feel any approach Manchester United will take will lean towards defence and the counter-attack, but Pep and co. play against that most games and could really humiliate this sub-par Man Utd side.

Shaktar Donetsk

Route to the Quarter-Finals:

Shaktar Donetsk are in my opinion the dark horses. They don’t have the biggest pedigree, but are a very difficult opponent as we can attest from recent games against the Ukrainians. They topped their group despite it containing our latest “victims” Arsenal and have a formidable home record with 0 losses in 58 games. They also stuck 3 past Roma in both legs of the round of 16 and will pose a threat to whoever they draw.

Key Player:

Luiz Adriano may share a name with a more famous Adriano, but make no mistakes, he is the best one. He has 16 goals this season (4 in the Champions League) and at 23, he is a great prospect. He also has a great understanding with fellow Brazilians Jadson, and the “new Ronaldinho” Douglas Costa. Don’t be surprised if you see him at a bigger club come next season.

Manager:

Mircea Lucescu is one of Shaktar’s most successful manager with a total of 4 league titles to his name. He also won the side the UEFA Cup back in 2009 and was unlucky not to win the UEFA Super Cup the following year against the Blaugrana. Lucescu is admired for his attacking philosophy, something I’m sure he wouldn’t change even if he drew Barcelona.

Tactics:

Shaktar are much like Inter tactics-wise with a 4-2-3-1 in operation. This changes to a 4-3-3 in attack, but with 2 players far out on the line. This can leave Luiz Adriano a bit isolated at times, but with fellow Brazilians Jadson and Willian in support, he can work this to his advantage drawing in defenders before playing it to the supporting midfielders. Another threat is Darijo Srna at right-back who is much like our Dani in getting forward.

Tottenham Hotspur

Route to the Quarter-Finals

Even if this is their only season in the Champions League, no-one can deny that they have been a breath of fresh air to this competition. Drawn with holders Inter in the group they fought back for a famous 4-3 defeat at the San Siro after being 4-0 down and down to 10 men. They later defeated Inter 3-1 in the group and returned to haunt Milan in the round of 16, knocking out AC in a 1-0 aggregate victory.

Key Player:

What can I say about Gareth Bale? He dismantled Maicon, so surely would destroy Dani Alves…Probably not, but he is a great player. Another victim of the hyperbole-loving English media, he has actually lived up to the hype (to an extent anyway). Tottenham clearly miss him when he’s injured and with Lennon on the other wing, they have pace to burn.

Manager:

Harry Redknapp was something of an escape artist up until his move to Tottenham and his numerous escapes from relegation earned him the nickname “Harry Houdini”. He has however admitted that he wishes to “escape” Barcelona in this next round. Despite throwing all caution to the wind in the group stage, he opted for a more defensive stance against AC Milan, though one can’t help but think this Barca side would welcome that if the two were paired.

Tactics:

Tottenham usually work out of a 4-4-2 formation but often this changes to a 4-2-4 with the midfielders moving into a holding role and the wingers pushing further forward. They have many options available, with Bale and Lennon on the wings, Defoe dropping off Crouch, who gives them the opportunity to play “Route 1” football. Defensively, they aren’t the best and expect the Barcelona forwards to find spaces often and capitalize on it.

Schalke 04:

Route to the Quarter-Finals:

Schalke have impressed me so far this season, overcoming their poor domestic form to thrive in the cups. They have reached the final of the German Cup and obviously the quarter-finals in the Champions League. They won their group which featured Real Madrid’s latest opponents Lyon and dispatched fellow Spaniards Valencia in the round of 16.

Key Player:

Raul may be nearing the end of his career, but his pedigree in European competition speaks for itself. The record goal scorer in the Champions League, he has 3 to his name this season, but would love to add to it if he was drawn against Barcelona. Considering the speed of Farfan and Huntelaar’s all-round ability, they have quite a triumvirate of strikers at their disposal.

Manager:

Ralf Rangnick was appointed today by Schalke and has previously lead the club too. During this time he was responsible for the Germans crashing out of the group stage of this competition. After being dismissed by Schalke, he went to Hoffenheim and led the club to unparallel success, gaining them promotion to the Bundesliga from the regional leagues.

Tactics:

Who knows? Rangnick could change everything entirely, but if he keeps it the same, expect another 4-3-3 with Raul, Farfan and Huntelaar up front. Uchida provides a decent outlet on the right and with players such as Ali Karimi and Euro 2004 winner Angelos Charisteas on the bench, they have experience in abundance.

Chelsea

Route to the Quarter-Finals:

The group stage was no problem to the London side; with 5 wins and 1 defeat in the last game they boast a near perfect record. They faced off against Copenhagen in the round of 16 and after a 2-0 win away from home, struggled slightly in the second leg.

Key Player:

Well, who do you pick? Every Chelsea player is vital to the side, but given all the star signings, one player has shined through. Frank Lampard has been a stalwart of the side, even through the period of change that Abramovic has brought. Always a threat, he has been blighted by injuries this season, although looks back to top form now. Whether he can still compete with the likes of Xavi and Iniesta though, I’m not too sure.

Manager:

Carlo Ancelotti was brought in for one reason. Win the Champions League. So far he has not delivered this, but has delivered the Premier League title. At AC he won the Champions League title twice and with this looking to be his final season at the English club, he may well be looking to go out with a bang.

Tactics:

Chelsea operate in a 4-3-3 (who doesn’t it seems!) and after the signing of Fernando Torres, use a rotation policy. However, in a big game as it would be, Ancelotti would probably look to unleash the trio of Anelka, Torres and Drogba on whomever they draw. On the other hand, with Ancelotti being Italian, I expect a more cautious approach if Barcelona were paired with them.

Oh, and I must mention Iniesta loves Chelsea!

Real Madrid:

Route to the Quarter-Finals:

In a word. Comfortable. Mourinho and his men cruised through the group stage with a 5-1-0 record before finally dispatching European bogey team Lyon in the round of 16. It’s not like their group was poor, it contained Italian giants, AC Milan and Dutch giants of yesteryear, Ajax. Their second leg against Lyon was particularly impressive, especially considering it feature a less than 100% Cristiano Ronaldo.

Key Player:

Ronaldo may be the player everyone loves to hate, but his talent cannot be disputed. Although I believe Messi is much better, Ronaldo is on another level to all “mere mortal” players. Iniesta has recently proved he too is in this bracket, but Ronaldo is certainly ahead of him. With 37 goals in all competitions this season, he is unbelievably prolific, but he hasn’t scored against Barcelona yet…

Manager:

“The Special One”. He may be outspoken, but he will go down as one of the best managers ever, behind Guardiola of course!! He won the Champions League with Porto and Inter, but neither of these were really expected in the slightest at the start of the season. However, when the pressure was on at Chelsea, he never could get them to the final of the elite competition. Will a similar fate await at Madrid?

Tactics:

Mourinho uses a 4-2-3-1 formation at any club he mages and Madrid have been no exception. Ronaldo is on the right and Di Maria is on the left. In Ozil they also have the player with the most assists in the competition, so attacking-wise, they have no problems. However, given the 5-0 drubbing that the Blaugrana dished out earlier in the season, one could suspect that Mourinho may draft in his ultra-defensive tactics for the future Clasicos.

Whoever Barcelona draw, I am confident of progression, but that cannot be confused with complacency. Any match at this stage will pose a tremendous challenge and with Abidal (get well soon!!!) out until further notice, Puyol seemingly facing complications with his injury, the Blaugrana could be in for a shock if they treat any opponent lightly. For all the reaction to tomorrows draw, keep it here at Barca Blaugranes!

Join Barca Blaugranes and become members of our website. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow me @aduckling_10