Had an email from one of our coaches yesterday. Knows the game, does very well with his team and not sure if he was just having a jab at my obvious Barcelona infatuation but here’s what he added at the end:
PS I am sick of hearing about Barca and how everyone needs to play like that and we all need to coach our kids this way. Whatever happened to passing to gain an attack as opposed to passing for possession. There is no other team that has the top 3 players and can play just to get 1 of them open.Might be a good blog post
And I couldn’t agree more. It’s a fine line when you look at the idea of how Barcelona pass sometimes just to maintain possession and seem to be more intent on denying their opponent the chance to attack by denying them the ball rather that utilizing that possession to foment attacks. That’s a big “sometimes” though as they have scored amazing quantities of goals over the last four seasons under Pep. I’ve already written a bit about how the constant passing in the middle third of the field opens up attacks but I do agree that the point of possession has to be to find a way to penetrate towards goal.
Here’s a great example of how that’s done and it doesn’t even involve Barcelona!
[credit to @FCYorkAcademy for bringing the clip to my attention on their Twitter]
It’s Villareal playing against Valencia in 2008. The passing is stunning but it’s not just pretty, it’s functional. If you pause the video in the first few seconds, you’ll see a very balanced Valencia defence with all ten outfield players in the frame, marked up and shaped well. Then Villareal start passing the ball around and draw Valencia into chasing. The Villareal wide player on the right holds his shape nicely. If you pause again at 18 seconds you’ll see now that Valencia are over-committed with six players in proximity of the ball. Soon after this point, Villareal switch play, recognizing the overload available on the right, and release the wide player. They don’t score but it leads to a penetrating, dangerous ball into the box. An excellent example of possession through one and two touch passing leads to creating opportunities in other parts of the field, recognizing them and playing to them.