One of the many positive things from Barcelona’s two preseason games under Ernesto Valverde is the return of the positional play, which was lost in the final moments of the Luis Enrique Era. Positional play is the mark of Barça Ball and it’s the way in which the team has been able to dominate matches forever with good use of possession, passes and movement of players to find and create spaces inside tight defenses. It worked against Juventus, and it worked again on Wednesday’s match against Manchester United.
A few players have benefited from the return of positional play, and one of them is Carles Aleñà. The Barça B star made a few appearances last season but never managed to impress, mainly because he played in a chaotic midfield that had very little impact on matches and was tasked with just running around to recover the ball and give it back to the ‘MSN’ trio. Under Valverde, midfielders actually get the chance to pass the ball between each other, and Aleñà has played quite well so far.
His performance against United lasted just 45 minutes, but we saw some very good things in the video above. Mainly his composure with the ball, his work ethic to press United players high up the pitch and the competitive attitude to try and dispossess Paul Pogba, which isn’t an easy thing. Aleñà also showed some very good skills and was important in transition.
Aleñà will most likely be a Barça B player this season and will only play for the first team in smaller Copa del Rey and La Liga matches, but with the return of positional play, he’ll get a lot more chances to show his true abilities. Barça Ball isn’t dead after all.