On Saturday, May 28th, the biggest game in European soccer takes place in London. Barca and Manchester United meet at Wembley for the European soccer crown. Barca is considered the best soccer team in the world and the common opinion is that they are the favorite for the final.
Despite this common opinion, Manchester United has decided to show up anyway and see what happens. With good reason. United has a top team and has a winning mentality that is needed for such a game. Following the competition throughout the year, Barca’s opponents so far went into the games with the “pants full” before the game even started. Remembered is the poor performance of Arsenal at Nou Camp where the gunners were seeking their glory in defending and after the game had to blame the referee for their own mess.
Here are some basics for United and anyone else who faces the challenge to play Barca:
- Imprison and close the British press two weeks before the game(just kidding)
- Complete focus on the game and what’s to come and understanding you have nothing to lose.
- No yellow cards for stupid stuff (kicking the ball away, complaining, fouls in their half or at a time when the ball is moving away from goal, taking the shirt off when you score and all the other baloney). You will need a break at one point of the game when it is necessary to commit a professional foul.
- Cover the important areas of the field, even though nobody is in there. For example, the area 10- 15 yards on top of the box.
- Be aware of Barca’s way of play and what is going to happen. Don’t get lured out of important positions.
- Do not care on how long they have the ball or how many passes they complete. Out of the 700 or so they will complete, only 10 will be dangerous and you will have to wait for them and then be on top of it. Patience is key.
- If you get the ball while defending, get it out of your half with the first contact.
Here is why you need to do all this and more:
- Imprison the press is not possible, but the reason is obvious. They couldn’t take their own team apart before an important competition. It would be a good idea, though.
- Complete focus, because you need to follow what happens on the field at any second. Make sure nobody is in your back and stay behind the ball. Barca can get you in a blink.
- The yellow card thing is explained above.
- Barca, like no other team, has the ability to move the ball around the field and is waiting for openings to occur. These openings very often come up on top of the box where they stick the ball through for someone coming out of midfield (Messi, Xavi, Busquets). Cover that area, they will come. Villa usually starts his attacks from the outside (mostly the left side, while Dani Alves does the same on the right) and is walking the defending line (the 4 defenders) and at one point they stick the ball through. Be aware and hold that line. Important for the goalie to watch out for these passes behind the defending line.
- With passing the ball around the field, they want you to lose patience and come out of your covered areas such as above.
- The entire world and the number crunchers are astonished about the completed passes of Barca. Keep in mind, 690 out of 700 completed passes are just used to lure you out of your position and make the other 10 dangerous. In fact, the more completed passes they need, the better your chances are to get away without a goal against you. So, once they are in position, let them pass in midfield, don’t chase the ball.
- If you get the ball while defending, and you will at one point, get it out of your half as quick as possible, preferably with the first touch. Barca has the habit, and the ability, when they lose the ball to get it back before the opponent completes 3 or 4 passes. They are masters in putting pressure on teams that way. Other teams turn into defensive mode after losing the ball. Barca’s first move when they lose the ball is forward. The other reason why you need to play in Barca’s half as much as possible is, defense is their weakness. If they are in their own half, they are by far not as strong as they are in your half.
- Don’t commit everyone into defending. Keep them honest. If you position yourself too deep, they will come at you with everything they have. Play with 2 strikers and put them on the two defenders Puyol and Piquet. That will cause them to take at least one midfielder further back and will cause more oversight in midfield. It will also make the dangerous short passing a little longer and give you opportunity to intercept.
- When Barca is losing the ball, the two outside defenders, right and left back are usually up in midfield. If you clear with the first touch, clear it into these areas. That will force Puyol and Piquet to get there and get the ball back. That usually works well, because everyone is only playing with one striker and with that the Barca defense is always a man up. If you play with two strikers you can keep the ball more often in their half and you will get opportunities.
These are the basics on how you can get Barca. It requires a lot of work and awareness, but it can be done. I my opinion, it is the way to win. Everything else has been tried out and failed. Good luck, ManU!