Since coming back from the World Cup break, we got to see Barcelona line up in a rather new format quite often, concretely in a kind of 3-2-2-3, also commonly known as the WM system. This setup, among others, benefits the midfield well, having 4 men to occupy the central areas, 2 interiors, who support the attacks greatly, and a double pivot behind.
Double pivot – a dilemma that numerously ran through one’s mind while desperately searching for a solution for Barcelona’s aging defensive midfielder problematic. Sergio Busquets, although being one of the best holding midfielders in football history in his prime, has obviously stepped out of this magnificent era, and his career slowly edging to its inevitable end.
Accordingly, Xavi tried multiple things, such as deploying Frenkie de Jong, Franck Kessié, or Nico González in the number 6 position and even the double pivot sometimes, but it seemed largely unfamiliar with the team’s style. Nothing seemed to entirely satisfy until this setup came into effect.
Yesterday against Real Betis, Sergio Busquets really rewinded the wheel of time, producing a masterful game as he did so often back in the days. Defensively, he was on the top, winning an outstanding majority of his duels (15/18) to retrieve the ball, while his sharp passing, especially his long balls were excellent, creating chances for his peers.
The reason why this setup blossomed probably lies at the complementary profiles of the two. Busquets, while doing his job perfectly in his position, freed up Frenkie to unleash his best self, having a bigger impact on the game higher up the pitch.
And Frenkie did brilliantly, gluing the play together, connecting the defense with the attacking section. In turn, de Jong also tracked back to relieve Busquets in defensive duties, complementing each other’s skillset – and covering each other’s deficiencies perfectly.