Posts Tagged ‘Barcelona’

Different tactical systems mean different duties for individual players

October 23rd, 2012 SB Tang No comments

Earlier tonight, I wrote during the second half of the Barcelona v Celtic Champions League group game at the Camp Nou:

Where was Song (Barca’s only nominal holding midfielder) in that 2 v 2 Celtic counter-attack which Wanyama fluffed!?

It was left to poor Xavi to hare back to support the two exposed Barca centre-backs. The man’s got enough on his mind, what with his symphony orchestra conducting duties and all …

In response, a gentleman named Dave Konopka emailed The Guardian to say:

I love how SB Tang apparently thinks that Song “holds” or otherwise plays defense. As a loyal Arsenal fan, I can tell you with absolute certainty that three things will happen whenever Alexandre Song plays. 1) He will play at least one incredibly incisive pass. 2) He will never be in position to break up a counter-attack. 3) He will commit a lot of fouls. This is why Arsenal are playing better defensively after selling Song, even if Arteta is far from a prototypical defensive midfielder.

Unfortunately, The Guardian didn’t have time to publish my response to Mr Konopka so here it is in full:

Dear Mr Konopka

Um, yeah mate, I reckon we’re in agreement — my point was that Song isn’t actually performing his function in this Barca side as the one and only holding midfielder, hence my reference to him as “Barca’s only nominal holding midfielder”.

Arsenal’s tactical system last season and this season is slightly different from Barca’s.

Arsenal typically play a midfield triangle with a deeper-lying two man base (last season it was any two of Arteta, Song, Ramsey, Frimpong or Coquelin) and only one more advanced creative midfielder (this season: Cazorla, Cazorla and, if Cazoral ever gets injured, a life-size cardboard cut-out of Happy Gilmore) supporting their lone striker, so Song could afford to lope forward and play his trade mark scoop passes for Van Persie to volley home. (As a Liverpool fan, Van Persie’s volley at Anfield still gives me cold sweats at night.)

By contrast, at Barca, Song is expected to play centre-back or function as the one and only nominal holding midfielder in their central midfield triangle which typically features two (you know who) playing high.

In short, different tactical systems mean different duties for individual players.



Press roundup: Messi can lead to divorce, Cristiano Ronaldo “greater than Messi,” England looks to the “clásico;” Dani Alves on life and literature

April 9th, 2010 Joaquin Bueno No comments
  • According to Barcelona’s SPORT, the appropriately named Bigboy Cheverevere, a South African football fan rushing back home to watch the Barcelona-Arsenal match, caused quite the spat when he arrived to find his stepsons watching something other than football. The ensuing melee resulted in the channel being changed and the police being called by his wife, Grace, who is intent on divorcing her Messi-obsessed husband.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo has unsurprisingly claimed that he is bigger than Messi. Indeed, he admits, he is not only taller, but wider than him.
  • The English Imperial Press, much like its Spanish Nationalist Cousins, are wont to admit that the accomplishments of another nation’s league could usurp their own. Though when it comes to the “clásico,” they won’t miss a moment to do some reconnaissance on their lesser continental neighbors. From the Guardian to the Times, a smattering of paraphernalia in preparation for Saturday’s Big One.
  • A curiously compelling interview with Brazil and Barcelona’s Dani Alves from The Guardian’s Man in Spain Sid Lowe, in which they discuss greatness, literature, and Wayne Rooney.

Champions League Preview

September 2nd, 2009 Sebastian Fengler No comments

This year’s UEFA Champions League promises to be an interesting one. Media coverage will likely extend to even more places around the globe as the competition features 8 first-time participants among the 32 teams that qualified for the group stage. VfL Wolfsburg (Germany), Debreceni VSC (Hungary), Unirea Urziceni (Romania), APOEL Nikosia (Cyprus), FC Zürich (Switzerland), AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands), FC Rubin Kazan (Russia), and Standard de Liège (Belgium) are all competing for the first time on Europe’s biggest football stage. This is partly due to UEFA’s decision to allow more national champions from across Europe to qualify directly for the group stages. This change has already had a massive impact on little known Unirea Urziceni, who qualified without having to play a single qualification game by virtue of being the Romanian champions.

While it is obviously debateable whether the 32 teams could legitimately be described as the best of Europe, UEFA’s move to diversify the field reclaims some of the original character of the competition. And with 18 of the 32 teams being defending champions of their respective national leagues, the name Champions League actually makes some sense this year. For someone who watched Bayern Munich and Real Madrid play each other at least twice a year for the better half of this decade, this is quite a drastic change.

Once we get to the end of the season, nothing will change, of course. Although there are more teams from different places in the group stages, the last 8 will likely look something like this:

Barcelona, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Inter Milan,  Bayern, and Juventus.

And that’s only if we are lucky enough to see teams from 4 different countries in the quarterfinals. At least, I don’t expect 4 teams from the same country to make the semifinal this season; something the English teams have been threatening to achieve lately as a consequence of the Premier League’s all-out attempt at global football domination. Fortunately, there is still some way to go before the European version of the competition turns into the CONCACAF Champions League (where 3 Mexican teams make the semifinal almost every year).

On a personal note, I miss the days when a team like Rosenborg Trondheim could consistently compete for a few seasons at the highest level and beat teams like AC Milan with a collective of excellent team players (admittedly sometimes aided by playing December games near the polar circle in Norway). 

Maybe the rule changes in the competition allow for a similar team to emerge in the near future. Nice move, UEFA.