Winning the Champions League is the number one priority for Barcelona. Especially now when their biggest rivals are getting stronger and more consistent in the competition.
Both R. Madrid and Atletico are way stronger compared to 4-5 years ago. Atletico wasn’t a favorite for winning the Champions League few years ago.
But now with Diego Simeone, they can easily go against every top club in the world. Even Pep’s Bayern couldn’t handle the Spanish underdog.
Yes, they’re often criticized for playing a bit rough, but that’s part of the game. Atletico players are not suited for the tiki-taka strategy.
They’re great at defense, and extremely dangerous on counter attacks.
The “park the bus” strategy can only last you for two seasons max. You still need world-class players to continue with dominating both La Liga and Champions League.
With players like Carrasco, Koke, Griezmann and Gabi, Atletico can easily compete with the big boys.
Madrid on the other hand depends heavily on buying super-stars. But they still need a coach that can control the team, and bring the success. Both Anceloti and Zidane were able to win the Champions League with R. Madrid.
But Barcelona is different. Besides Messi, Barca’s success is based on the total football philosophy. They always had a direct approach, and gifted players were given advantage over physically strong one.
However, football is not that simple. You need to twist and improve your strategy, if you want to stay on top.
The good things
The first thing we have in mind is MSN. The best attacking trio in football is looking sharp, and scoring goals like always.
Even though Messi is injured, he will soon return on the pitch and continue with his amazing performance game after game.
Maybe the best example of how important the MSN trio is for Barcelona is the game against Bayern in in 2015.
It was all about Messi’s magic and the support from Neymar and Suarez. Most teams depend of one star player, but Barcelona has three.
You might control one star player, but it’s almost impossible to control all of them. You can assign 2 and even 3 defenders to mark Messi, but that just leaves more space for Neymar and Suarez.
And they could be as deadly as Messi.
Signing Umtiti means that Barcelona is now stronger at defending as well. Umtiti is tall, strong defender that can cope with players like Lewandowski and Benzema.
This means that besides Pique, Barcelona will have one more player to defend on set-pieces and corners.
The bad things
Taking control with possession is not like it used to be. When tiki-taka was dominating football, clubs were afraid to press, and the only solution was to defend and hope for the best.
It’s not like tiki-taka is not dominating football anymore, but many clubs can successfully handle teams that prefer possession.
Let’s take Atletico as an example. Simeone is strict when it comes to training sessions, and he focus a lot on fitness and running.
That’s why Atleti players have no difficulty with putting pressure, defending and attacking as well. It’s good that Enrique is experimenting with formations and approaches, because it’s always great to have a plan B.
But at the end of the day, Barcelona’s success depends on the MSN trio form. If they’re all in form, the tiki-taka will have a purpose, because having possession will turn into more chances and more goals.