Barcelona New system at the Camp Nou
Ronald Koeman has switched things up at Barcelona, bidding farewell to the previously unnegotiable 4-3-3 shape.
Ernesto Valverde would occasionally alter to a 4-4-2, but in the last few years the 4-3-3 system has created defensive blackholes and that led to the team’s humiliation in Lisbon against Bayern Munich.
Koeman favours defensive stability and that’s why he’s turned to a double pivot in midfield, which has helped to get the best out of Sergio Busquets against both Villarreal and Celta Vigo.
“Having a teammate alongside me in defence is nice and allows me more freedom in attack,” Busquets said himself.
Busquets is used to a 4-3-3 shape but he knows what it’s like to follow this approach as he played in such a system under Vicente del Bosque with Spain at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa alongside Xabi Alonso.
Now, it is Frenkie de Jong who partners him, and they have kept two clean sheets from two games played in this style, giving a feeling of confidence and solidity when out of possession.
This defensive partnership in the middle is supported on the flanks by Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann, who do their fair share of tracking back and defensive work too.
That allows Lionel Messi more freedom to roam offensively, while Ansu Fati alternates between helping the team in midfield or going forward, but never leaves the team vulnerable.
Barcelona can now leave behind them the images of Busquets running back alone, exhausted after a 30 yard sprint.
The reliability of this new system will be put to the test against Sevilla on Sunday, having faced easier tests against Villarreal at Camp Nou and Celta Vigo at the Estadio de Balaidos.
In goal, Neto remains unbeaten after two games in which he has done his job of stand-in well.