El Clásico review.
The game of the year finally got underway some 52 days after it was initially set. With a cloud of political unrest, and both teams changing pre game plans, this was set to be a fascinating encounter. That it was. Although the score was 0-0, the first time since 2002, it was a tactically intriguing game, with Real Madrid, probably getting the better of Barcelona, but with neither team been able to break the deadlock.
The line ups.
Barcelona - 4-4-2/4-3-3 hybrid
Semedo Pique Lenglet Alba
Roberto Rakitic De Jong Griezmann
Real Madrid - 4-4-2 diamond
Carvajal Varane Ramos F.Mendy
Valverde Casemiro Kroos
Barcelona came into the game playing a 4-4-2 without the ball, and then a 4-3-3 shape with the ball. Griezmann and Roberto were central to this idea. Griezmann has the discipline as an attacker to be able to work back and cover space and players. Where Roberto is an all rounder type of player who can play in many positions. When they won the ball, Griezmann would travel forward and take up a higher position, sometimes centrally we'll get onto that later. And Roberto would tuck inside to allow space for Semedo to attack, also allowing Barcelona their traditional 4-3-3 attacking shape. As I just mentioned Griezmann would sometimes tuck right in next to Suarez creating a front 2, while Messi dropped into midfield, almost mirroring Madrid's diamond midfield. Barcelona never really gave Madrid much to worry about when they had the ball. In the second half we only had to wait 10 minutes before the first substitution was made. This was bringing in the energetic midfielder Arturo Vidal for Semedo, this pushed the versatile Roberto back to right back, and Vidal took Roberto's position. This gave Barcelona greater run from midfield. And allowed Roberto to attack from deeper positions. This sprung the Barcelona attack into life giving them a bit more dynamism, and led to them creating their best chances of the game.
Much the opposite to Barcelona, Madrid started the game well on top. controlling almost the entirety of the first half. The 4v3 they had in the centre of the park worked quite well for them allowing them to press onto Barcelona effectively and not allow them to play out and forwards easily. The press was so effective Barcelona were unable to get many chains of 4+ passes together. Madrid pressed by using a man- oriented press, opting to shut down players when they moved into space rather than having people sit in the passing lanes. When they would win the ball, they would look to get one of Bale, Benzema, or Isco into space where the Barcelona fullbacks have vacated. Madrid rotated this around quite well, it wasn't always the same player in the same space, although Bale was more often out on the right wing than either Isco or Benzema. This meant that quite often they would be able to run with the ball into space and not be engaged by a Barcelona defender until they reached the final 3rd or even the 18yard box. In attack when they had a considered spell of possession, not a counter attack situation, one or more of the forwards would drop to aid the build up, this in itself is not a new thing, but, Valverde and Kroos would almost without fail make a run beyond the Barcelona defence when this would happen. Not always would the run be rewarded with a pass, but it was enough to allow Madrid more time on the ball. Another key feature of Madrid's attacking play in the first half would be that propensity to take long range strikes that would bounce in front of Ter Stegen. This seemed like a plan coming into the game as it was done pretty much straight away.
All in all, one of the tactical heads watching this game. Madrid getting the points by the judges, but unfortunately for them not by the result. Madrid the unlucky side here, not been able to break the Barcelona defence. it will make for a interesting return later n the season as the La Liga tie breaker is head to head, a lot riding on the return fixture.