Oriol Romeu-David Luiz’s Saviour?

Oriol Romeu at 6ft 1in and with his muscular body must be the most un-Barcaish player to have emerged from La Masia. He may not have the technique or the vision of his former partners in crime at La Masia,but the former Espanyol youth player ‘s tactical reading and his willingness to cover for his teammates is vital,especially when you have gifted ball playing midfielders ahead of you. Chelsea’s resurgence in recent times is mainly due to the fact that they have tightened at the back and are conceding less goals. Earlier in the season the defence was leaky and with Obi Mikel out of sorts and Essien injured,they didn’t play with a recognised defensive midfielder which added to their defensive woes. Now,playing with Romeu in front of the back four and playing a deeper defensive line,the blues are more organised and are looking to challenge for the Premier League

 When you have someone like David Luiz playing in the center of defence,you need to have someone responsible and defensively capable player to cover for him. Many people feel David Luiz remains a liability in defence and doesn’t deserve a place at Chelsea,but in these days where opposition teams generally tend to play with two holding midfielders,the ball playing central defender becomes a potent goal-creating(scoring) threat. But as we have seen many times with Luiz,it is catastrophic for some one playing in that position to be adventurous. Last season’s title deciding game at Old Trafford was one of the numerous occasions where Chelsea had to pay for David Luiz’s lack of defensive awareness. So people may ask,why not drop him?

Fantastic technique,great finish and dribbling skills which will make any Premier League winger proud,which manager doesn’t want such a player in his team. And when that player is a central defender ,it is an added bonus as the opposition rarely makes plans or assigns someone to mark a central defender. Having said all of this, a defender’s primary duty is to defend and Luiz doesn’t seem to have understood that fully. So why not play him in midfield or as a full back?
Barcelona under Pep Guardiola have been the source of many tactical innovations over the past 3-4 years. And players changing their starting positions to perform different roles has been a main tactic,Lionel Messi dropping back to play the false 9 role,Dani Alves playing as a right winger,David Villa cutting in from the left to play as a striker. So this shows that moving away from your initial position and role is the order of the day. In terms of positioning there may not be much difference in a number 10 and a false 9,but as Lionel Messi will tell you there is a world of difference. In the el clasico,Pep Guaridiola after 20 minutes switched Puyol from center back to right back and asked Busquets to drop deeper. This move was vital in Barca fighting back from a goal down and winning the game. Sergio Busquets after the switch, didn’t exactly play as a center back.
Source-Opta Jose Twitter Account

The picture above shows that Busquets was neither a center back nor a defensive midfielder,Barcelona were playing with a back 3 and a half . Now coming back to Romeu and Luiz,they seem to be the perfect pair to replicate such a switch. Luiz can be given more freedom to attack,especially when Chelsea are chasing the game, Luiz can push forward and go on runs into the final third with the assurance that Romeu will cover for him if there is a counter attack. Both of them have unconventional skills set,which do not allow them to perform specific roles,Romeu’s passing and vision is not of enough quality to play as a deep lying playmaker and we all know about Luiz’s limitations as a central defender. So it makes perfect sense for AVB to try out the 3 and a half defence and allow David Luiz the freedom he craves. Having said all of this, its not certain that something which works for Barcelona will work for Chelsea,as players under Guardiola have been brought up together and understand each other’s roles on the pitch very well. For players to achieve a level of fluidity where they can seamlessly switch positions and roles,they require a good understanding of each other’s game which requires time and loads of training ground practice.

For David Luiz to continue playing as a central defender at the highest level in a flat 4-4-2,he needs to curb his attacking instincts and remain disciplined. Even if that is possible,Chelsea will lose a goal scoring threat in the final third. So the ideal solution for AVB is to play a back 3 and a half with Romeu playing as a half CB-half DM. AVB can do this by bringing Ivanovic slightly inside and giving Luiz a free role on the right. So the young Oriol Romeu may be the key to David Luiz’s future at Chelsea. 

Maybe someday we will get to see Premier League teams playing football like the Dutch national team of 1970s

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