Coutinho in the start, Busquets in reserve. "Barcelona" in search of a football player
Barcelona is looking for a place for Coutinho. While without it is better

Barcelona is looking for a place for Coutinho. While without it is better

Match “Barcelona” with “Alaves” – one of those that you need to watch, even if you know the account. You can forget about the dramatic plot, but there is a stunningly informative game. Coutinho’s debut, lack of Busquets, an overload on the flank of Messi, a fine free-kick … You should see this (if you have not seen it yet), and at the same time find out what the changes mean in Barcelona.

Coutinho in the start, Busquets in reserve. This is generally how?

Where to put Philippe Coutinho in the current “Barça” – the question is never rhetorical. Suffice it to say that in “Liverpool” Brazilian became one of the best players of the team, playing a free artist on the left flank, and in the team he comes to the right. “The place of Neimar” in 4-3-3 seems ideal for him – but Valverde left 4-3-3. So where? Simultaneously with this question there is another, no less urgent: instead of whom?

In a match with “Alaves” Valverde tried to find the answer to the first question, bypassing the second. He tried Coutinho on the right flank of the attack, removing from the field Sergio Busquets. The link in the center of the field was Rakitic and Paulinho. The heat map shows that the initial arrangement corresponds to their actions on the field. Rakitic took Buschets’ place on the field and was the most active in Barca. The most passes, the most accurate passes, the most attempts at selection, six interceptions. Did he have a great match? Not really. Favorite word Valverde – balance, but after the game, he had no reason to pronounce it. So, how did Barcelona play without Busquets and Coutinho?

Barcelona is looking for a place for Coutinho. While without it is better

“Barca” without Busquets: not the best idea

Very interesting decision. Going out without Busquets means losing the most defensive player in the team. Yes, I’m aware that Sergio’s uniqueness is in controlling the ball and delivering it to the attack. By the way, here’s a video of his actions in the match with “Hispaniol”, to see this once again. Try to imagine any opornika in the world that knows how to fintit. But talking about another, Busquets as a destroyer is no less important. He is the best in the “Barcelona” in the selections, interceptions and makes the most fouls, which in the context of his position is also an indicator of defensive actions. But the actions taken into account by the statistics are not all the benefits that it brings to the defense. Opornik with the best in its game reading game is always on the field where necessary. That is why it is indispensable.

In the last three years, Busquets takes second place in the team by the number of minutes in the example: 8363 minutes. The first, Messi, 8875 minutes, the rest is less. Therefore, talking about the restructuring of “Barca” is meaningless. Busquets did not play for one and only reason: Valverde considered that “Alaves” was a suitable opportunity for experiments. The coach had good reasons to deprive the team of defensive power to the detriment of the attack: “Alaves” scored just 17 goals this season (the third from the end result). That is, in theory, this is not the team that will immediately reveal weaknesses in the defense and take advantage of them – rather, it will simply pass by.

But even “Alaves” did not pass by the holes in the center of the field at “Barca”. Therefore, the first result of the match – Busquets still indispensable. The goal of the guests proves this. Messi lost the ball from someone else’s penalty when Paulinho was running into the penalty area. The standard maneuver in “Barça”, when they are with Messi change places. Because of the loss of five players (Messi, Dinh, Suarez, Coutinho, Paulinho) remained behind the ball line and cut off from the episode. Plus Semed and Iniesta are far away – on the flanks. Counterattack goes through the center. In a normal situation, there Busquets, who reads this pass half an hour before it will be done. And manages to cover it. In the worst case – fouls. In a specific situation, there was no one there, because Rakitić lost his position and was late for the episode. He still tried to break the pass to Ibai Gomez on Jon Guidetti – and did not interrupt. And simultaneously with him and Pique, who for some reason duplicated the actions of the Croat. The result – two players “Alavesa” together ran to the gate, and behind them ran Yumiti and Semedu. The situation is shown in the screenshots. Clearly visible corridor of hospitality, which “Barca” left guests right in the center. With Busquets on the field this is hard to imagine.

Barcelona is looking for a place for Coutinho. While without it is better

Barcelona is looking for a place for Coutinho. While without it is better

Barcelona is looking for a place for Coutinho. While without it is better

The episode is analyzed in detail not in order to cover Ivan Rakitich with a shame, which was given out by a mad match in terms of the volume of work. But only to emphasize: the decision to release Coutinho and at the same time leave Busquets in reserve is just an experiment. And even if “Alaves” (17 goals in the Example) managed to punish Barca for freedom in the center of the field, it means that it will be necessary to assume that the experiment did not work on the defensive.

A bunch of Paulinho-Rakitic represents too much of a risk, especially given the excessively heroic manner of playing Pique. The risk led to one goal, but the failure happened twice. On the 62nd minute Basques could double the score. Rakitic lost the fight in the central circle, Paulinho lost in the attack, Yumiti insured Albu, Piqué acted on player Yumti. After the loss of the ball, Rakitic slowed down and a vacuum formed in the center. In the end, “Alaves” was to score twice in one attack: first Gomez went to the goalkeeper, but was carried with the ball, and Paulino and Sergi Roberto managed to catch up with him, then Gomez gave the pass to Duarte, who was left alone. The dangerous attack again came from the central zone – from one pass and pass through the center.

Thomas Edison once said: “I did not have failures. I just found thousands of ways that do not work. ” It seems that 4-4-2 with Paulinho and Rakitic in the center of midfield – this is just such a method.

Everything is clear with the defense. What’s with the attack?

Account 2: 1 is deceptive. Two blows Paulinho and blow of Suarez – it’s almost guaranteed goals on xG. And according to the statistics of the season, “Bars” for goals needs an average of five hits, and the team misses on average after 11 hits. That is, the bill could be larger. But there is a nuance.

Barcelona is looking for a place for Coutinho. While without it is better

The main moments of the Catalans were created in the second half. Highlights from the right flank – after Coutinho left the field. That is to extract a direct benefit from the appearance of Coutinho on the flank of Messi failed. The overload on the right flank did not lead to dangerous moments. And the loss of the Argentine in the center is more dangerous for the team than the losses on the flank.

The pass card is under attack. The passages that came from the Coutinho zone are circled in red. One of them gave Alcazar, two Messi. All three – after the 67th minute. That is, when the Brazilian was no longer on the field.

Barcelona is looking for a place for Coutinho. While without it is better

We understand how the experiment Valverde affected the game, “Barcelona”, but it is fair to say that to draw conclusions on the interaction of Messi and Coutinho for one game there is no sense. Yes, they rather interfered with each other than created a synergy. Naturally, because they only had an hour. It can not be ruled out that in the next matches Philippe will again come out on the right. Just Paulino, for example, will sit down, and Busquets will take the usual place. The balance will return, and Coutinho and Messi will continue to work together. While the Brazilian just does not fully feel where to move to get the ball.

So where will Coutinho play?

Pay attention to the moderate assessment of the transfer from Valverde. He said that Coutinho is able to benefit from the attack, stressed that the Brazilian is a more attacking player than Iniesta, that he needs time to adapt to the new style, and added that this purchase is an investment in the future. Very weighted words, they are the key to understanding the role of the Brazilian in the team.

Right now, when Barcelona is playing perfect positional football, it is useless to “introduce” Philippe into an existing and balanced scheme on an ongoing basis. In general, the question of “where to put it” about a football player of this level is the best compliment to Barcelona and Valverde, which can only be done. He shows how complex the construction he built up. So the experiments will continue. Brazilian can be tried on the other flank, but you can in the center of midfield. Now Busquets has got some rest, next time it could be Iniesta or Paulinho. A permanent place on the field for a beginner will find later. With time, there will be more options.

First, “Barcelona” sooner or later will return to the game in three forwards. This is inevitable, as the victory of the “Bavaria” in Germany: sometimes something can interfere, but everything quickly returns to its places. And then Philippe will return to the usual place on the left semi-flank. Secondly, putting Iniesta in reserve when he’s in excellent shape is just silly, but the gradual process of turning a 33-year-old legend into a player of rotation has already begun. In the next season it will continue. Coutinho has six months to become a more disciplined player – to learn how to hold the position better, less to be drawn to the ball. “Adapt to the style,” Valverde said. He is diplomatic, in fact Coutinho needs to adapt to the fact that he is not the guy the whole team plays on, and who can move around the field, whatever.

But there is a third, and this is the most interesting. “Barcelona” has a suitable selection of players to copy 4-1-4-1 Guardiola in Manchester City. With Busquets in the base area, Coutinho on the left flank, Paulinho on the right (Valverde had already tried it) and Messi-Iniesta near Suarez. Scheme, in which all the top four players freely change places with each other. Sounds suicidally bold? Do not be brave than playing with one Rakitic in the base zone. And it’s not bolder than counting that Neymar will work on the flank in defense. But he practiced, and “Barcelona” won the trill. Although during the season she lacked balance. Then Luis Enrique managed to find him in time.

Now Valverde does not have three superforwards at the same time, but among his newcomers one of the fastest winger in the world and a universal player for three positions in the attack group. And most importantly – there is time to introduce them into the team gradually. He does not need to hurry, and he obviously is not going to.

The article uses materials from the sites Whoscored, squawka, Understat, Youtube channel Resumenes FUT, public in Twitter on 11tegen11.

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