As well all know the 2019-20 season has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic which has left many pondering what to do next.
Our friends at SB Nation’s Manchester United blog, The Busby Babe, wondered if maybe we could play a 5-a-side tournament to decide the season and came up with their team.
Check out our writers’ selections below.
Amer Khosla’s XI
Ter Stegen, Pique, Busquets, Messi, Luis Suarez.
1. Ter Stegen: while this is really a no brainer, there is still no doubt about the fact that Ter Stegen’s ball playing ability is really unmatched. In a 5-a-side game, the ability to escape pressure by passing back to an additional ball-player is essential. Ter Stegen can be the fifth outfield player whilst also making game-changing saves. Indispensable.
2. Pique: Gerard Pique one of the greatest ball-playing centre-backs of all time and offers great versatility in a 5-a-side game. He can shift higher up the field if need be but can also drop deep alongside Ter Stegen to start moves.
3. Busquets: A link between defence and attack, Busi would prove absolutely pivotal in a 5-a-side game. Given his ability to read the game and escape pressure, he could offer defensive support when needed too.
4. Messi: Messi doesn’t require explaining now, does he?
5. Luis Suarez: With his ability to split defenders and off-the ball movement, Suarez is the perfect foil to Messi; he would prove lethal in a 5-a-side game, especially with his ability to score from tight spaces.
Prison FC (Josh Sutter)
Ronaldinho, Dani Alves, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, Philippe Coutinho
This is the team I’d pick if I were a prison manager. There are a variety of reasons to pick this squad in particular. To be clear, only one of the people on this list are actually in prison. So, Ronaldinho is a given since he’s already there.
Dani Alves and Luis Suarez are there because of pure tenacity and skill. I’m not sure either one of them are actually tough, or if it’s more of a tough persona kind of thing. Either way, Luis has bitten someone, and Dani seems like the type of guy to whisper and tell Suarez to bite someone else.
Every group needs their little guy to make fun of. Coutinho is that guy. Still has the ability to randomly blast a lovely goal in. However, he probably won’t. Every team needs the guy to make fun of, especially in prison.
Gerard Pique is the leader. I think it’s easy and simple to make the typical guy your leader. However, I also feel like Pique would do decent in prison. I think he could abandon the hairstylist appointments and beard trimmings. He would make a nice compliment to the Alves/Suarez pairing.
The Controllers (Luis Mazariegos)
Ter Stegen, Arthur, Busquets, De Jong, Messi
My strategy is simple: five-a-side is all about operating in tight areas. The field is generally about a third the size, yet you have almost half the players. That’s why I’d pick the five who perform best in tight spaces. Ter Stegen is an ideal keeper for five-a-side, so is an obvious choice for me. Messi is an automatic pick of course. He will have more defensive responsibility than he’s used to, but the pitch will be smaller relatively speaking. And there’s no way you pass him up. After that, I think Busquets is a great choice because of his first touch and short passing skills. There aren’t many better in the world at that. Once I started thinking about that, I thought how I want to maximize that skill and the other two midfielders are some of the best in the world in those areas as well.
I would play a 3-1 formation, with the midfielders playing as pseudo defenders and Messi staying up higher. What’s handy is De Jong and Busquets are used to playing as defenders, and Arthur isn’t too bad either. My other picks that I considered: Piqué and Griezmann, because they have such a diverse skillset and that obviously helps as all players have more responsibilities as there are simply fewer on the pitch. However I liked the synergy I’d get from picking three guys who are used to operating as a trio. Our weak areas? Probably pure speed and stamina, but I think that’s less noticeable in five-a-side. Also, we probably lack aerial prowess, but again, I don’t see crosses being a very viable strategy. Ultimately 5-a-side suits Barcelona, I think, because the team already is built to operate on short-passing in reduced space. I want to maximize that strength by picking the ballers.
The GOAT and his kids (Gill Clark)
Pena, Todibo, Riqui, Ansu, Messi.
It’s time to give the Barca kids a chance and that’s exactly what my five-a-side team is all about. The kids will also get the chance to play with Lionel Messi, and if that doesn’t inspire them to victory, then frankly nothing will.
In goal I’m giving Inaki Pena the chance to impress, while I’ve recalled Jean-Clair Todibo from his loan with Schalke, cancelled that crazy purchase option in his contract, and made him my first choice five-a-side defender.
Riqui Puig hasn’t featured enough at all this season for my liking so he also gets the nod ahead of Todibo. The 20-year-old has the touch, skill and vision to thrive in five-a-side, and I’m expecting plenty from him.
In attack I’m trusting Ansu Fati to bring the goals along with Messi. The 17-year-old is quick, a good finisher and has already shown this season has much he loves playing alongside the GOAT.
And just for good measure here’s a look at what an all-time team would look like:
All-time XI (Jason Pettigrove)
Ter Stegen, Romario, Ronaldinho, Cruyff, Messi
Trying to pick an all-time Barca five-a-side team is hugely subjective and also extremely difficult! Marc-Andre ter Stegen gets the nod in goal purely because of his distribution as well as his shot-stopping. Victor Valdes was in with a shout, but MAtS always sniffs an opening so he gets the nod.
Romario and Ronaldinho because... well, it’s Romario and Ronaldinho! Joga Bonito, skills in the tightest of places, flick-flacks, no-look passes and goals. Joyous!
Johan Cruyff is the organiser, the conductor of the orchestra, whilst Lionel Messi will score, assist and generally cause havoc to the opposition.
Now it’s over to you. Tell us those teams you love (or hate!) and what your 5-a-side line-ups would look like in the comments below!