Barcelona’s build-ups vs Leverkusen-Part 1


Barcelona are switching sides. Tempo is low . Leverkusen are so compact, it takes time for their midfield to shift. Iniesta, Neymar, Mathieu combine to get the ball into the wings. Once the ball gets to Neymar however the defensive & offensive movements are very different fom bayern.For one look at the speed at which the ball is fizzing across bayerns backline. Ribery looks to run down the touchline & cross while Lewa, Bernat, Alonso are all behind the play to win the second balls. In contrast Neymar cuts inside & only Iniesta, Busquets are behind the defensive structure while Rakitic is making a run. Barcelona lose the ball far away from Leverkusen’s box & there are only 2 players behind the ball. Sandro & Pique try & be the 3rd man to win the ball. Wendell Kramer & Bender have formed a 3 man structure & get the ball near Barca’s box to combine. Each time Barca clear the ball, it should be the wings as central duels will be dominated by Papadopolous, Kramer & Bender.

Leverkusen won’t allow Barcelona to switch sides from the throw in. Every player makes sure Barcelona cant switch sides forcing them to play through the crowd. Rakitic’ is too slow, should be using his body & switching to Sandro. After losing the ball alves makes up for Rakitic’ by coming to midfield. Chicharito has to make a diagonal run. Like Alves Wendell steps up to prevent Sandro taking the ball wide & getting Barca high up the pitch. Long ball on, offside.

Similar situation. Neymar loses the ball going inside but in contrast Rakitic’ isnt going for the penalty box run. Barcelona have all 3 midfielders behind the ball. The loose ball falls for Rakitic. Sandro makes the correct choice in crossing. Team is high up behind the ball, strikers are in the box.

Played the ball to one wing & quickly shifted to the other by Alves.

A goal kick from Leno. Bender, Calanoglou, Kramer all forming a 3 man cage to win the 2nd ball. Again the same mistake from mascherano. Sandro, Suarez should be on the wings & looking to stretch play. Instead they lie central. Bender puts no pressure on Busquets who shifts the ball to the wing. Rakitic’ is again making a run .Only Busquets is the man left for 2nd balls. Had Suarez not won the ball a counter was on. But every disadvantage has its advantage. Ideally Iniesta would’ve gotten the return & switched play to Sandro.

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Rakitic slow on the ball again. Busquets is prevented to switch by bender arcing his run .Mascherano shifts the ball again to Iniesta on the left wing who combines with Neymar cutting inside. Busquets is the one pushing forward now. Neymar’s switch just falls short.

This is a good example of the weakness of a shifting 4-4-2 zonal defense as the ball is always the fastest object on the field. Leverkusen are shifting ballside . Rakitic switches to Pique. Wendell cant follow Sandro due to the threat of Alves. A CB has to step out. Fantastic play by Barcelona

Iniesta keeps possession & shifts the ball. Mathieu should be sprinting at once when the ball is going towards mascherano. Force the Leverkusen midfielders to shift quickly & then Mascherano can switch play to Alves or play in an interior(Iniesta in this case),or allow Pique to surge forward & find Suarez or Sandro into the hole. Good read by Bender who knows what mascherano is about to do. Calanoglou & Wendell have to deal with Iniesta, alves & Sandro. Only 2 players behind the ball. Rakitic’ should have read what mascherano intended & dropped as Iniesta is in the hole. When Leverkusen win the ball back counter is on Rakitics’ side. Good foul Alves.

Leverkusen are taking a breather & have dropped off into a passive zonal 4-4-2. Barcelona can play in between the lines. Mascherano, Pique & Busquets keep passing till Chicharito gives up. Pique can then step forward into midfield. Pique, Alves, Busquets are behind the ball.

Good play by Rakitic’, supports Pique & Alves to go wingside (the switch is coming) . Sandro recycles to Alves who switches to Iniesta’s wing (Iniesta, Mathieu, Neymar) with only Donati & Kampl. Kramer has to shuffle quickly.

Leverkusen’s structure behind the ball is aimed at winning second balls. Kramer, Bender, Kampl all form a cage to snap up loose second balls.

Bad play by Rakitic’. Busquets is the third CB in this play. The absence of a holding midfielder shows. If Rakitic’ drops in between the forwards they have to squeeze together to deny him. Gives Pique space to bring forward the ball. Instead he moves away. The forwards can now aggressively mark two ballside CB’s without the fear of the in between midfielder. When Barca do send the ball to Sandro’s wing Rakitic’ is again slow to switch to Mathieu, opts for the long route. Barca eventually do lose the ball but all 3 midfielders are present defensively.No counter,sorry. One of the very many benefits of elaborate build-ups.

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Poor again by Rakitic’. Busquets has dropped as the 3rd Cb again. Rakitic’ has to keep the forwards in check being in between the 2 forwards so that Pique is free to surge into midfield. The part where he goes to support the ball is correct but he has to do so from in between the forwards. If not, the forwards can be aggressive in their press leading to pique hesitating & losing the ball & counter is on almost leading to a goal.

Good typical build-up from Barcelona. Busquets has forwards near to him & Pique can shift the ball wing-side .You know the switch is coming. Iniesta almost threads the ball. No counter is on(Iniesta, Busquets, Alves structure). Rakitic’ does well to win the ball but again showcases a general lack of awareness. Alves is high up the pitch. Rakitic’ should have stayed in midfield. Once Neymar loses the ball counter is on . Luckily for barca ball is out of play.

Good play again. Busquets frees Pique who can search for an inside pass in between Leverkusen’s shifting midfield.

Leverkusen hunting for second balls. Kramer, Bender, Wendell, Bellarabi all are caging Barca’s midfield. Alves has to step into midfield to match which leaves weaknesses outside.

Good aggression by Chicharito & Bellarabi. Pique could have opted for the diagonal maneuver as Bayer are too narrow.Then pull back & switch.

Frustrating yet again from Rakitic’. Ball has to be recirculated to Pique after the forwards compress in on him. Instead decides to go direct on the wing where barca have no advantage. Leverkusen have compressed to half the field.

Bad play all over. Mascherano is taking the ball to Busquets instead of passing it directly to him. You can immediately tell the move will break down. No holding midfielder is present. Forwards press aggressively without any guilt. When Busquets drops deep Rakitic’ is the designated holding midfielder. He is sleep walking.

Barca have a man advantage on the left wing. Mascherano should move forward & quickly play in Mathieu. Rakitic’ ends up losing the ball.Bayern deal with compact levekusen by sending Boateng forward.

Read the second part here

This post first appeared on r/soccer



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