The tactical change that catapulted Barcelona to the league title under Xavi Hernández

Date:

Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

Maybe it’s too drastical to claim that one tactical change was that decided the fate of the trophy over a 38-match campaign, but surely, an inspired idea of Xavi Hernández suddenly put Barcelona into a surprisingly favorable position, which, eventually, led to such momentum at the end of which the Catalans could lift the league title.

The traditional 4-3-3 formation was the basic formula at the beginning of the season, but with painful losses at both the domestic and European stages in a crucial period of the season somehow suggested that a change was bound to happen. After losing to Internazionale in the Champions League which basically sealed our elimination and a humiliating 3-1 defeat in the Clásico, the change indeed came.

First, in a game against Athletic Bilbao on the 10th matchday of the season, Xavi pulled a tweak that Ernesto Valverde was unable to respond to, leaving Los Leones in a miserable position which made them lose the game 4-0. It was the first time when Xavi used 4 midfielders to ensure control in the central areas, while it leaves more space for the likes of Dembélé/Raphinha and Baldé on the wings. And, it’s safe to say it paid off.

The box midfield was a great tweak, but it would be unfair to assign the innovation to Xavi’s name. He started to utilize quite a retro WM system that later became permanent, brought back into fashion by Guardiola’s Manchester City this season, where a 4-man box midfield dominates the center of the pitch, while two lines of 3 are created in the defense, respectively in the frontline.

Concretely, this idea was realized at Barcelona in the following way: the fullbacks picked up asymmetrical positions as Koundé stayed deeper on the right while Baldé pushed high. With Baldé holding the width, the ‘false winger’ on the left (usually Gavi) had the freedom to tuck inside and create a numerical advantage against an opposition trio, creating the box of the Busquets, de Jong, Pedri, and Gavi quartet.

This formula was perfectly suited for Barcelona as this enabled the Blaugranas to use all of their valuable assets in a favorable position, bringing the best out of each individual. It’s symbolized best with the flourishing Frenkie–Busquets double pivot, which allowed the duo to have much more touches and greater impact on the game. Busquets had less defensive duty and could concentrate more on distribution, while the Dutchman has become an influential creator from deep.

Also, the increased involvement of Pedri and Gavi also increased their impact, with more fluidity and movements, they eventually found themselves finishing off actions and creating chances. Also, the midfield overload freed up the wide channels more, where Baldé could enhance his great attacking skills on the left, while Dembélé and later Raphinha could flourish on the right side of the attack.

The only concern that could be brought up was the inconsistent final touch, which Lewandowski’s form perfectly reflected. Another thing was the lack of ‘pausa’ and extreme directness, which was the result of having several key players injured at the same time. It could be improved with a good transfer window, and there is still room left for improvement to catch up to the teams on the biggest shelf, but the talent is there for sure.

Ben Kantovich
Ben Kantovichhttps://www.instagram.com/garnetandblue/
Meet Ben Kantovich, a passionate writer and devoted lover of the beautiful game. Through his words, he brings the excitement and beauty of football to life, sharing unique perspectives with readers worldwide.

Recommended Articles

Related articles

Barcelona director spotted with Belgian talent’s father – report

Given their rather fragile economic state, FC Barcelona are not exactly in the best of positions. No longer...

Yamal 8.5, Pedri 8.5 | Barcelona 3-0 Rayo Vallecano: Player ratings

A solid outing for FC Barcelona ended in victory for the Catalan giants over Rayo Vallecano. A 3-0...

Barcelona defender could play his final home game for the club

All journeys must reach an end at some point, and those at FC Barcelona are no different. La...

Italian coach offered to Barcelona after his impressive season in Serie A

Only some weeks after Laporta convinced Xavi Hernandez to go back on his word and continue as the...

Xavi’s staff denies there were any insults from Barcelona winger

After a phase of relative calm in the last few weeks, there is once again a lot of...

Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano: Predicted line-up

Barcelona are set to take on Rayo Vallecano in an all-important La Liga clash, and here is how Xavi’s team could line up for it.

Brighton coach set to become free agent amidst Barcelona links

A lot of issues regarding FC Barcelona this season stem from the various uncertainties at the club. La...

€50m Barcelona player’s altercation with Xavi led to his exile against Girona

A lot of issues have plagued FC Barcelona this season, many of them being internal ones. The Catalan...

Xavi talks Laporta, Deco, his future, ahead of Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano

The top managerial position at FC Barcelona is once again surrounded with uncertainty as recent reports on the...

Girona still confident about retaining Barcelona loanee – report

Irrespective of who the manager will be next season, FC Barcelona are set to face an overload of...

‘The chosen one’… Spain NT coach full of praise for Barcelona gem

While there are still two games to play, the 2023-24 season is going to end for FC Barcelona...

Barcelona can replace Xavi without needing to worry about FFP

A lot of hope rides on the management of FC Barcelona to make the right decisions moving forward....