UEFA Champions League: FC Barcelona vs AC Milan: Tactical Analysis

MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 23:  Alberto Aquilani of AC Milan and Thiago Alcantara of FC Barcelona contest for a round during a UEFA Champions League organisation H compare between AC Milan and FC Barcelona during Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on Nov 23, 2011 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

After a goalless pull final week during a San Siro, Barcelona’s hopes of apropos a initial group to keep a UEFA Champions League faded usually a little. Make no mistake, that initial leg confront with AC Milan was never going to be easy, though a enlightened outcome was there for a taking. Milan sat back, fortifying deep, peaceful a Blaugrana to attack, and – not for a initial time – a boys looked unexcited in front of goal. That clinical touch, a cruel strain that has been clear in a best formula underneath Pep Guardiola was no-where to be seen. Expectations were high for some people; we saw a few comparing a pre-match conditions to a Manita feat over Real Madrid, though it would have been a warn if Barcelona got one on that night, let alone five.

However, a lapse leg tomorrow during a Camp Nou is approaching to be a whole conflicting story. Nigh on 100,000 people will container a stadium, and they will not wish to be disappointed; blemish that, they can't be disappointed. Sure, a stakes competence be a small higher, a antithesis competence be stronger than usual, though a ultimate design for Barcelona does not change: they have to win this match.

In a pre-match press discussion during a San Siro, there was one doubt that elicited a grin from Pep Guardiola. That one doubt also brought a tongue-in-cheek response from a Catalan; after all, what’s a indicate in seeking how Barcelona are going to play? Pep done a small joke, before uttering a judgment that could good be a problem: “I consider a character is known.”

As always, Guardiola could not have been some-more serious, though we consternation if it has ever crossed his mind that a truth could good be a problem? we don’t meant switching divided from a beliefs laid out by Cruyff, though what about a Plan B?

Fret not my associate Culés, we don’t wish Barcelona to pointer a target-man (again), or anything like that, though we feel it wouldn’t harm to arise a second choice – tactics-wise – that could chuck a tool into a works for a antithesis manager. At current, this personification character competence be a “brand”, though it does concede a antithesis manager to erect a singular game-plan. Often these game-plans are distant from perfect, or a players during a manager’s ordering are not good adequate to exercise it fully, so Barcelona win anyway, though what happens when a antithesis does get it right?

Well, Milan got it right final week, and they probably nullified a Blaugrana attack. Aside from a peculiar possibility here and there, such as Alexis Sanchez’ chastisement appeal, Barcelona was done to demeanour walking by Allegri’s game-plan. What Barcelona indispensable during that indicate was a Plan B, a new proceed that Allegri had not designed for, something to mangle a routine of a common 4-3-3.

Then we had a compare on Saturday conflicting Athletic Bilbao. Barcelona dominated a Basques with a high tempo, high pressing, and rarely liquid movement on a common 4-3-3, with one male during a centre of it all: Thiago Alcantara. Perhaps we am over-estimating his change on a side during a weekend, though Thiago’s opening in a centre of a park was superb, a exhale of uninformed atmosphere even. Even during that mad tempo, Thiago was calm, sequence in disharmony if we like. Was Pep Guardiola perplexing out a new tactic with Milan in mind, or was it usually a usually approach he felt his side could kick Bielsa’s Bilbao? Almost positively a latter, though who could contend no to a actor with such artistic control? Here are a few situations where Thiago could start conflicting Milan:

The 3-4-3:

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While a 3-4-3 has come in for a bit of critique (OK, a lot of criticism) it stays a usually Plan B. Early in a season, Pep realised that he didn’t have adequate defenders to play in a 4-3-3, and that his side indispensable to be kept on their toes, so a 3-4-3 that compulsory high levels of thoroughness and thoroughness seemed to be a ideal cure. Except that wasn’t always a case. In an ideal world, a 3-4-3 was ostensible to keep a invulnerability focused during all times, though there were occasions when it merely left them outworked. Valencia was a primary example, as Jordi Alba and Jeremy Mathieu tore Barcelona detached on a left-hand side, nonetheless scold me if I’m wrong, though hasn’t a categorical problem with a 3-4-3 been a miss of defensive breadth and a space it leaves for antithesis wingers?

Well, in that case, what would Barcelona have to fear by contracting a 3-4-3 conflicting AC Milan?

The invulnerability is straight-forward and fundamentally picks itself. The one male section wall Javier Mascherano, a resurgent Gerard Pique and a ever-reliable Carles Puyol positively have adequate knowledge to quarrel a Milan front-line, and since Milan are a unequivocally slight side, a miss of breadth in invulnerability would not be a factor. A midfield foursome of Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Thiago would approaching monopolize possession, and crucially out-number a midfield Trivote that Allgeri is approaching to occupy once again. In conflict Lionel Messi would be upheld by Dani Alves and possibly Alexis Sanchez or Pedro, nonetheless we could equally demeanour on a arrangement as a 3-6-1.

This is arguably a easiest approach for Thiago to container into a line-up, though it is unequivocally a many unsure proposition. The defensive triumvirate would have to be during a tip of their game, and while Milan do tend to play though loyal wingers, there would be zero to stop Kevin-Prince Boateng and Robinho from flapping out far-reaching to emanate space in a centre for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Furthermore, in this situation, there would be combined inducement for a Milan midfielders to make late runs and swell into a area from deep.

That is since any 3-4-3 would place a shortcoming on a midfield to lane behind and assistance a defense. Alves would be obliged for a right side of a pitch, while Alexis Sanchez or Pedro would have a identical purpose on a conflicting side of a pitch. Busquets would have to dump deeper when Milan are in possession, while both Thiago and Iniesta would have to vaunt a same work-rate that was clear on Saturday.

Basically, a 3-4-3 should concede for nonetheless some-more possession, as good as overloading Milan’s Trivote, though in my opinion, it is simply too unsure to exercise conflicting such high-calibre opposition.

Thiago during left-wing:

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Back in December, Barcelona won a FIFA Club World Cup after violence Santos 4-0 after one of a best performances of a season. On that day Thiago played on a left-wing. If we remember correctly, it was Durval who played out on a right for Santos, and he was given a vehement time as Thiago’s pace, cunning and earthy participation got a improved of him time and time again. Since then, Thiago has not played a singular diversion out on a left-hand side, while Andres Iniesta has featured there mixed times, notwithstanding unwell to stir in roughly each singular match. In fact, Iniesta was mostly unknown on a severe final week conflicting tomorrow’s opposition. Hopefully Pep has finally seen a light of day and will not repeat that mistake again, and if he is still so antithetic to a suspicion of Pedro or Isaac Cuenca starting, since not give Thiago another try?

In fact, he could even keep Andres on a wing if he unequivocally wanted, so prolonged as Thiago started in his place in midfield. In this formation, a invulnerability would mostly be as expected, nonetheless there is no space for Adriano, as we trust Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano should both start. The midfield is as clever as it gets, while a conflict is mostly full-strength, aside from Thiago’s participation on a left-wing.

However, Thiago would offer a hazard like no other on a left-wing. He competence not be a quickest actor in a squad, though does have adequate gait to difficulty many defenders, nonetheless if Ignazio Abate does start, he will not have a gait advantage tomorrow. On a other hand, what he does offer is an atmosphere of unpredictability, and a whole array of skills. we competence be a usually one, though when we watch Thiago we am reminded of a certain buck-toothed Brazilian who indeed played for both Barcelona and AC Milan. Maybe he isn’t as good as Ronaldinho yet, and he competence never be, though Thiago is positively one clever customer. Furthermore, while Andres Iniesta frequency possesses a earthy presence, Thiago is a small stronger, some-more absolute than his colleague. Combine all those attributes with his La Masia schooling, and Thiago could means a lot of massacre out on a left.

4-2-3-1:

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I was meditative to myself earlier, since can’t there be a approach for Barcelona to margin a back-four with healthy full-backs, with a contingent of Pique, Puyol and Mascherano all on a field, along with some arrange of a midfield that could out-number a Milan Trivote? we suspicion to myself how that arrangement would keep a width, along with over-loading a center of a field, all though endangering a defense. If usually we could consider of one…then it strike me: what about a complicated favourite, a 4-2-3-1?

In your normal 4-2-3-1, there isn’t a whole lot of positional rotate and a whole complement is a small too firm for my liking. You usually have a singular attacker, and a default of truly good series 10’s means that creativity is kept to a minimum, generally with a double focus of destroyers. However, during Barcelona, all these pitfalls would be avoided. Javier Mascherano competence be a destroyer, though Sergio Busquets is not by any widen of a imagination. Alongside a Argentine in a 4-2-3-1, there is a possibility that Busquets would have reduction defensive responsibility, and he would be released to make brazen runs and join adult with a attack. If we remember Roberticus’ initial post for a site, Busquets could take adult a purpose as a “false enganche” tomorrow in a 4-2-3-1.

Also, it eliminates a problems with a 3-4-3, and in sold when Adriano or Alves are forced to play in attack. As full-backs, a dual are unequivocally attack-minded, though a vast apportionment of their diversion relies on a runs they make from deep. Push them serve adult a representation and Milan can symbol them out a game, though if they stay during full-back and swell brazen when necessary, they turn unequivocally formidable to collect adult and defend. Bearing in mind a bigotry of a midfield three, there would a lot of importance on a dual full-backs to yield a breadth and widen a Milan defense, though these are dual Brazilians we are articulate about: I’m certain they would arise to a occasion.

The midfield contingent would play slight as we mentioned, though is that indeed a bad thing? With Allegri odds-on to exercise a Trivote again, what improved approach to quarrel behind than with a contingent of aggressive midfielders? For a many part, a Milan Trivote was so successful since they always had adequate players to cover Barcelona. There was Lionel Messi along with Xavi, and if we were lucky, Andres Iniesta changed executive to assistance out. Keita was unknown offensively, so it was no warn that Ambrosini and co would banish Messi. However, would they be means to do a same thing conflicting a smallest of 4 Barcelona attackers?

Positional rotate and fluidity would not be a problem, as Mascherano and Busquets are both able of dropping behind to centre-half to emanate a three-man defense, so liberating a full-backs to attack, while Xavi and Iniesta could dump a small deeper to emanate a midfield solid if required to cover a aggressive runs of Nocerino and Seedorf. Thiago and Messi could switch positions as well, generally if Messi is struggling to accept possession mostly adequate and with Thiago relocating into a fake #9 position, a conflict would not be disadvantaged. Personally, we would adore to see this 4-2-3-1, though equally, we wish to see Alexis Sanchez as well. we theory we will usually have to wait and see.

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