Jerry Porras wrote: “When you put together deep knowledge about a subject that intensely matters to you, charisma happens. You gain courage to share your passion, and when you do that, folks follow.” There isn’t a quote that could better describe Mr. Dragan Skočić. With a four year experience as a professional player in Spain, he is THE coach that could explain to us why is the FC Barcelona such a wonderful team and how it is possible to hurt them…if it is possible at all.
Mr. Skočić, you have brilliantly analyzed the game of the FC Barcelona, a team that seems unbeatable. Let’s say you are the coach of an average Premiera division team and you come to play at the Camo Nou. You know you will not have the ball very often and that your team is going to be under constant pressure. Are there any solutions to achieve a positive result?
In elite soccer, they are still searching for that answer because we are confronted to a team that, in terms of individual quality and team organization, is superior to any other team. It is almost impossible to imagine a team that could compete with Barcelona at the moment.
It is very clear that Barcelona plays with a high number of players in the building/possession phase that are in front of the ball, their defensive line being therefore very high. Now, because they leave a very large space behind the defenders, the logical answer would be to use a direct style of play, based on counter attacks, with players running in the space from the midfield.
I would say that the connection and the distance between the right/left backs and their correspondent central defenders is one of their problems because the backs focus (and anticipate) so much the moment when the team is going to win the possession again so they can rush as quickly as possible in attack. In the same aspect, the FC Barcelona slightly disorganizes its block by using horizontal rotations when preparing an attack.
When they lose the ball, the first reaction is always to recover immediately the possession on the opponent’s half. If they do not succeed, they take back their positions in a defensive block, which is sometimes less organized, despite the universality (ability to play multiple positions) of the players.
Let’s get back to the question. If you want to compete with the FC Barcelona, the first problem you need to solve is their continuous attacking phase, where the main characteristics are: rotations (changing positions), space creation and one against one game. In the midfield, the important thing is to take away time and reduce space to the creators (Iniesta and Xavi). The fundamental aspect of your defensive block should be the control (reduction) of the space between your lines, especially between the defense and the midfield. The focus should be put on the central area between the lines, where Messi, as a ”fake striker” or the wide attackers (Villa or Pedro), come in. In order to execute this task perfectly, you need perfect communication between the lines as well as conceptual intelligence and discipline. In this confined space, each player must not only be focused on his zone, but also on the adjacent others.
On the sides, it is absolutely necessary to double the position. Now, in order for your team to accomplish those tasks, you will need players with very high functional capacities and strong mentalities because they won’t have possession of the ball very often.
In my opinion, only a few English Premier League teams have the capacity to face the FC Barcelona.