Not my analysis (and I can’t figure out how my one attempt to use game footage for analysis got yanked off of YouTube so quickly and ones that like this are able to stay up uncontested but I’m glad that it is) but a great breakdown of how the two teams enjoyed success tactically in one of the best games I’ve seen recently.
The pace of the game was stunning yet the technical ability of the players didn’t suffer. Great assessment of how Valencia were able to wrong foot Barcelona for most of the first half and how Barcelona adjusted in the second half.
May not embed but click through to watch it on YouTube. It’s worth it.
I still contend that Barcelona are not the same team without a healthy Pique and Puyol. As noted in the video analysis, Alves hardly plays right back. He’s so high up the field that Valencia repeatedly exploited that space. I really believe that the value of Pique and Puyol is their unique ability to deal with being left short at the back and extinguishing the danger that generally comes from the decision to allow fullbacks to play like out and out wingers. And while going to a 3-4-3 is something I regularly play with, doing so with a girls U17 team is quite a bit less radical than doing so in La Liga.
UPDATE: Here’s the points I thought were most relevant for youth teams in row form of an email that’s going to my U17 girls team:
1. Barca start off playing 3-4-3 ( as we increasingly do). Very unusual for professional teams but they’ve moved to that because they know they dominate possession and teams tend to drop off and not leave many attacking players forward. That lets Barca move someone at the back and play with four in midfield (they normally play 4-3-3 with three compact central midfielders and two gazelles playing outside back (Dani Alves at right back, referred to as ‘Dani’ in the video, and Abidal at left back) who constantly go forward in wide positions).
2. Valencia’s success comes from quickly attacking wide positions that force Barca’s back three to get stretched and leave gaps in the middle. That is the concern we need to be aware of when we play three at the back. I’ve covered this but seeing it may help the girls understand it. It doesn’t help that Dani Alves is still playing right back as if Barca have four at the back. He’s ridiculously high leaving just two at the back causing them to get exposed repeatedly.
3. The pace of the attack on Valencia’s first goal when they pull Puyol out of position and play behind him to make a 4v3. When you have numbers in the attacking third you have to recognize it right away and play at full speed to exploit it.
4. The early cross on Valencia’s second goal when the wide player realizes he has numbers (2v1) in the box. Not the best cross but it was the best decision and it resulted in a goal.
5. The breakaway pass to Messi around 5:32 that works because Valencia’s line is not good enough. The Valencia players don’t step when the centre back come forward and Messi loops around to get onside (you barely see that on the video) and then receives the through ball with the defenders who are keeping him onside too far away to stop him except for a last gasp nudge from the other centre back to throw him off his shot (fantastic defending by the way).
6. Barca’s second goal starting about 6:25 does so much of what we talk about. Messi has pulled way back into midfield. Fabregas plays a short pass to him and notices his mark turns to watch the ball. As Thiago pulls out of the space up front (Thiago and Messi have switched), Fabregas makes a run off the shoulder (a blind side run) off his mark into the space Thiago has created. The arrows help illustrate it well. I particularly like the right back realizing, too late, that he’s holding Fabregas onside and blindly sprints forward too late in an attempt to play his offside.