Sevilla 2-Barcelona 2: A Tactical Review of Enrique's Coaching Moves


Barcelona started out with their strongest team in a 4-3-3 formation and nicked two early goals at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium courtesy of a gallazo by our #10 and a brilliant free kick by Neymar that the Sevilla goalie could only stare at in exasperation.

Despite these auspicious beginnings, however, Enrique made his first tactical blunder around the 37 minute mark. Here a switch in goal from Bravo to Ter Stegen was the best choice for the Andalusian coach. The reason was obvious to some more astute observers: regression to the mean. Bravo has been so good all season that the law of averages suggested that he was bound to mess up imminently, and this is precisely what happened when he failed to parry a shot by Benega from well outside the area.

At 2-1 in the second half, Lucho made a stylistic mistake as the team played poorly and lost the initiative instead of taking the bull by the horns and expanding their lead. Around the 70th minute a defensive sub was needed and Enrique went with the too obvious choice to bring on Xavi to exert more midfield control. Here was another tactical blunder as a more experienced coach would have replaced Pique with Bartra. The reason is simple: regression to the mean. Pique has been so solid at the back that the law of averages suggested than he would mess up imminently and this is exactly what happened. The Spanish international chose a dangerous pass to Rakitic in midfield instead of the more safe one to Alves on the wing. Though both passes had their merits, an objective analysis would certainly suggest that the safe one would have been the better choice since it would not have led to a quick counterattack and a goal which tied the match at 2-2.


In the 85th minute Lucho made his last substitution, bringing on Pedro to try to salvage the game with a winning goal. This was never going to happen and again was a strategic error. Instead the more obvious choice was to remove Messi from the right wing and substitute him with Montoya. This would have accomplished two important ends. First, a double right back formation would have solidified the right side defensively. More importantly, however, it would have made the entire team, fanbase, and province of Catalonia rise up in a unified outrage so powerful it would have inspired a treble and political secession from the Spanish nation.

While there is no shame in a draw, I can only conclude that a tremendous opportunity was lost on Sunday in Seville due to some regrettable coaching decisions. The good news for Barca fans is that the team retains a two point lead in the table and the all important head to head advantage should the team end even on points with its arch-rival in the capital.

<em>This does not represent the views of Barca Blaugranes or SBNation</em>