Ronald Koeman using the ‘Dream Team’ as inspiration for Barcelona

Barcelona ‘Dream Team’ behind Ronald Koeman’s philosophy.

After a UEFA Champions League humbling last season, Barcelona decided on bringing in one of their former legends to be the new head coach. Although many criticized the appointment, Ronald Koeman has been able to silence his critics via the two convincing victories in the league. Two wins out of two, two clean sheets, and seven goals scored. These are very impressive stats and should the manager continue to show results like this, they have a very good chance of dethroning Real Madrid as the Spanish Champions.

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The Dutch manager made a controversial move by changing Barca’s formation of Pep Guardiola from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1. The club had become a symbol of attacking football so turning it into a more defensive formation seemed like a step against their footballing philosophies. However, now that we have seen the club in action, it is much easier to see what Koeman is trying to do. Koeman played under the legendary Johan Cruyff and was a part of the ‘Dream Team’ that dominated Spain and Europe. The philosophy was quite similar there as well. Without having a designated striker, goals would be coming in from all directions and defenders could not just get away by man-marking the number nines.

Cruyff preferred to play without a main striker and would rather play a ‘false nine’ who would hold up the play and make time for others to make runs into the box. The exclusion of a regular striker made it extremely tough for center-backs to mark someone as any of the attacking players could try to make a run inside. This tactic would mean that an area striker is not required as the goals would be coming from the entire team rather than from just one player who stays mostly inside the opponent’s penalty box.

Koeman is trying to emulate a similar team by making Lionel Messi play in the false nine position. He tries to create confusion for the defenders while players like Jordi Alba and Ansu Fati can rush into the box. Thus it is sort of a reversal of roles as Messi used to be the one who would make the runs into the box but now he has become the holding player who marks the defenders allowing the pass to run into others. The tactic has been working so far and the captain has been making some great efforts to make the new formation work properly.

The Argentine also helps out in the defense as and when required. In the match against Celta Vigo his defensive duties were required as Clement Lenglet was sent off in the first half and Barca played with 10 men the entirety of the second half. Messi responded to his duties and gave a lot of support to the defense. This goes on to show that the players are responding well to the tactical changes and they have put faith into the manager.

We must now wait and see how the club will fare against tougher opponents in the League and also the Champions League. We will have the pleasure of witnessing two Barcelona v.s. Juventus matches in the group stages, along with a clash against Real Madrid; and that is where we can evaluate Koeman’s tactics more thoroughly.

Next: Barcelona enjoy brilliant pairing of Ansu Fati and Lionel Messi

Will this tactic suit the current Barca squad?

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