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Futbol Club Barcelona is a Spanish professional football club, based in Barcelona, Spain. They play in La Liga, and is one of the only three clubs to have never been relegated, along with Athletic Bilbao and rival Real Madrid.
They were founded as Football Club Barcelona in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English, and Spanish footballers led by Joan Gamper, the club has become a symbol of Catalan culture and Catalanism, hence the motto “Més que un club” (English: More than a club). FC Barcelona is the second most successful club in Spanish football in terms of overall trophies, having won twenty-one La Liga titles, a record twenty-five Spanish Cups, nine Spanish Super Cups, and two League Cups. It is also one of most successful clubs in European football, having won ten UEFA competitions.
A traditional shot stopper goalkeeper Victor Valdes is not. In 10 champions league games he has had to make 15 saves his shot to save ratio is 65%. Futhermore has kept 3 clean sheets and conceded 8 goals. In comparison Edwin Van der sar has made 9 apperances in this seasons champions league keeping 6 clean sheets and has only conceded 3 goals whilst playing on a team that averages far less possession. In addition Van Der Sar has made 31 saves and his shot to save ratio is 91%.
Victor Valdes may not be a very good traditional goalkeeper like Edwin Van Der Sar but he is the type of goalkeeper Barcalona needs. What he lacks in shot stopping he makes up for with his delivery. If we do the Van Der Sar – Valdes Champions league comparison again we see that Valdes is far superior in his distribution of the ball than VDS. Lastly Valdes offers something that alot of keepers dont he can function as a sweeper. Valdes is comfortable both on the ball and outside the box; this benefits Barca greatly since they use a very high line which leaves them vulnerable to the counter.
Captain Carlos Puyol is the warrior at the heart of the Barca defense. He races back to stop potential counter attacks and makes last ditch tackles. He is really Barca’s last line of defense. He averages 2 tackles game only bettered slightly by Dani Alves(3), Busquets(2.3), and Mascharano(3) who all normally play higher up the pitch than he does thus see more defensive action since Barca press high up the pitch. In addition to tackling he also makes 2-3 interceptions a game. Busquets is the only player who can say he averages more interceptions the Puyol. Although not as technically skilled as Pique he does complete more passes (91% to 88%), but Puyol is generally more conservative with his passing than Pique.
Despite standing 178cm tall Puyol is surprisingly better in the air than Pique who stands at 192cms tall.Puyol has won 71% of his aireal dules whilst Pique has only won 55%. Puyol is also by far Barca’s best player in the air despite being the 14th tallest player on the squad. He will be a vital player if Barca concede a free kicks or corner kicks as Manchester united has some giants such as Rio, Vidic, Smallings, and O’Shea. Puyol is also capable at playing at fullback and it will be interesting to see if Pep puts him their to stop the influential Nani.
Pique is Puyol’s counterweight in the sense that he balances out the more rigid and traditional Catalan captain. Unlike Puyol, Pique is a Modern “Centerback”. He has played over 1762 passes this season, he has averaged a successful pass rate of 88% a game, and he has averaged 5 accurate long balls a game with only Xavi , Busquests, Pinto, and Mascherano bettering him. Pique’s ability to go forward and his comfortability on the ball has earned him the name piquenbauer. “You look at some of the things he does with the ball and it stuns you,” said Spain’s technical director. “He thinks like a forward” and dont be suprised if you see him as a make shift forward either!
Abidal is back after having his liver tumor removed. He may not be fully fit but word is that he will play in the champions league final. Abidal occupies an important role defensively. He can play as a centerback equally as well as he can play left back.Also Abidal does key defensive work on the left averaging 2 tackles and interceptions a game.
to around the 40 seconds for Abidal’s defensive qualities
In games against high up wingers he will stay back to form a back 3 which allows Alves to maraud forward. In other games when he has no direct opposition he will go forward him self. He doesn’t offer as much to the attack as he does to the defense though. In attack he averages a key pass every 3 or 4 games and completes a dribble on average once every 2 to 3 games.
Abidal is very composed on the ball even whilst under pressure he doesn’t boot it up the field; instead he will play past his pressing opposition to help Barca keep possession.
Dani Alves is one of the most aggressive attacking fullbacks in the world. He often starts and receives the ball in advance positions and pushes forward even more. He spends most of the game hugging the touch-line which stretches the opposition and allows Messi and Pedro to stay inside. He does venture away from the flank occasionally ending up in the oppositions penalty area where he can cause a lot of damage by getting behind the oppositions defense with his pace.
Barcelona have one of the best attacking “fullbacks” in Dani Alves. By January of this year he had completed more passes in the attacking third 276 in the final third. This season he has been directly responsible for 23 Barca goals. Assisting in 18 of them and scoring 5 him self. He averages 2 key passes a game with only Xavi and Messi surpassing him and he completes 1-2 dribbles a game.
Is great defending and getting back
Not only is Alves great at going forward he possess great speed which allows him to get back to into position following his forward excursions. If Barca lose the ball and he’s been giving the responsibility to cover the whole flank he will apply pressure to the opposition fullback just like a winger would. Dani Alves also completes more tackles than any Barca player averaging 3 tackles a game. Furthermore he averages 2 interceptions a game with only 3 other players bettering him. Although he’s an aggressive attacking fullback he has remarkable defensive abilities.
Barca’s midfield three is very unique in that they all have great passing ability; none of them have a pass completion rate below 90% and they all actively help Barca in the build up play. Barca’s midfield is composed of Xavi, Busquets, and Iniesta. Although similar they each perform their own unique task to keep the midfield running and functional.
Xavi is the facilitator in midfield; he is the Club’s best passer averaging a 94% pass completion ratio. Furthermore he plays more key passes than any one on the team; averaging 2-3 key passes a game. To add he averages an 121 touches a game in comparison his united counterpart Carrick who has averaged 94 touches per game in the champions league.
Busquets operates closer to the back line and is the more defensive of the three. He averages 2-3 tackles a game whilst Xavi averages 1 and Iniesta averages 1-2. Furthermore he leads the clubs with 3 interceptions a game whilst Iniesta averages two and Xavi only averages 1 interception game. Finally Busquets averages 1-2 fouls a game, Iniesta averages 1, and Xavi averages a foul every 5 games.
If Xavi is the facilitator and Busquets is more of the dystroyer than Iniesta is the creator. Simply speaking he makes things happen; he leads Barcelona in assist in the champions league with 5 to his name. He has 8 goals in La Liga whilst Xavi has 3 and Busquets has 1. He averages 2-3 successful dribbles a game; Xavi and Busquets average 1 in comparison. All of Iniesta’s contributions cant be explained in words though
These roles aren’t strictly adhered to though. Some days Iniesta and Busquets will orchestrate the midfield as much as Xavi, and other days Xavi will be the one going forward and getting a goal.
Barcelona posses on of the greatest footballers in the world in Lionel Messi . Tactically the two-time Ballon D’or winner is the ideal # 9.
Characteristics of the Ideal #9
Scores a minimum of .75 goals per game, Attacks the back of opposition defenses
Knows when to drop away from the back line. Rarely receives with back to goal but can do so. Understands the effects of his movement. Always searching for diagonal or through pass.
Is Efficient 1v1, Has pace, acceleration, agility, and body strength, stretches opponents back line in both ways
Messi(red) plays behind Villa(green) and Pedro(white) in the false 9 position. His deep-lying position can cause opposition who don’t use 1-2 defensive mid fielders a problems. As the centerbacks and central midfielders are often left wondering who should really pick him up? He is too deep to be followed by a centerback without leaving gaps in the defense and if a center midfielder wants to pick him up they have to drop back into a defensive midfield position. Messi’s deep-lying position allows him to help the midfield in build up play giving them an extra player in which to pass to. Also on many occasions he actually starts the transition from build up play to attack by picking up the ball deep and dribbling. That is one of the advantages his deeper positioning allots him. It gives him more space to pick up the ball and gain speed before running towards the back line. Furthermore his deeper position allows him to be more influential and create more. Since Pedro and Villa are ahead of him he usually has a minimum of two options when he picks up the ball in midfield. This has led to a lot of his assist. Watch the assist video again see how many of his assist come from this position in which he has Villa and Pedro ahead of him.
Villa and Pedro are different players but occupy the similar roles. Villa is a striker turned into an inside forward whilst Pedro is a winger made into an inside forward. This is evident in games; Villa often starts in a more advance position in between the oppositions right back and right center back whilst Pedro starts out more as a right-winger but cut’s inside. In addition Villa’s higher position means he rarely drops into his own half in the defensive phase of play while Pedro in his winger starting position is usually more inclined to drop deeper.
Villa’s position means he is in a better positions to shots and thus naturally get more goals than Pedro. Villa averages 3 shots a game while Pedro averages 1-2 shots per game. Statistically Pedro might just be the more clinical of the 2 he has a goal average of .54 whilst Villa has a goal average of .56 but Pedro is alloted less goal opportunities during a match. Both Pedro and Villa are fast and possess the ability to break through the back line, but Villa is poor when it comes to holding his runs and he averages more offsides than any one on Barcelona. Villa averages 2 offsides per game whilst Pedro, Messi, and Alves average an offsides every other game in La Liga.
Barcelona are a very balanced team. Their goalkeeper Valdes matches their style of play very well. Pique balances Puyol’s aggressiveness. Abidal balances out Alves’s constant need to get forward. The midfield trio all work together to perform vital jobs in the middle. Messi’s is dynamic and unpredictable and gives a surprise element in their routine passing approach. Even Villa and Pedro compliment each other. Villa is the more direct whilst Pedro is more of the winger and creates more. It will be hard for United to break down such a fluent and well rounded team on Saturday.