FC Barcelona vs Nastic might have just been a friendly, but there were clear positives that are hard to be overlooked. The team has a long way to go in terms of fixing their core issues, but certainly have taken a step further. With the availability of Dembele, and Coutinho, Koeman has a season to plan for, while simultaneously fixing the issues that have lingered around FC Barcelona for quite some time now.
Sweta: “New signings hit off! “
Koeman already had said this before that no player will play more than 45 mins in the friendly of FC Barcelona vs Nastic and accordingly, there were completely different lineups in each half. In the first half, It was like regular Barcelona. They looked sharp at times with Alena, Messi and especially Pedri. Even though Dembele scored the opening goal, scoring the first goal of the Koeman era, for me, the new signing had his best time out there. The first half of FC Barcelona vs Nastic displayed strong mid and upfront but still a shaky defense. Mostly youngsters filled the second half. Trincao was sharp throughout the game; he was running, making those passes, creating chances. In the second half, Barcelona looked stronger defensively too. De Jong looked calm and composed. The game displayed how essential it was for Barca to give a chance to youngsters. They have that extra urge, an extra bit of willpower, that desire to battle and an extra bit of hot blood, and there was a distinctive difference due to the presence of youngsters in the team. We cannot come to any narrative from just this game because at the end of the day; it was a friendly game. But, if Koeman will seriously consider giving more chances to young players as he did in this game, Barcelona has an opportunity to revive. The key currently at Barcelona is not just the tactics but choosing the players who are keen to give their all, who can work their all.
We can be hopeful about Koeman after this friendly of FC Barcelona vs Nastic for sure.
Swaroop: “The future is in safe hands”
Koeman has certainly amped things up at Barcelona. The team looked quicker and faster than before. Specifically the circulation of the ball. I can’t remember the last time when Barcelona circulated the ball so fluently. FC Barcelona vs Nastic had many such observable positives, but it seems as though Koeman has an experimentation job ahead, in order to determine a competent starting 11. It was clear that Sergio Busquets is suffering from the lack of mobility due to his age, which has been a problem for quite some time now. The highlights of FC Barcelona vs Nastic however, were the youth that sported the Blaugrana colours. They inspire confidence in Cules such as me, the fire of youth burning bright with the subtle understanding of the Barcelona way. Ousmane Dembele, even after a long and tedious series of injures seems really up for it and it’s just a matter of time before he reaches his true potential. Pedri has been outstanding today, a real exhibition of his technical prowess. Alena playing the role of a deep-lying playmaker has shown that he is an option the coach needs to keep an eye out for.
The best part of FC Barcelona vs Nastic came in the second half, with the team consisting mostly of youngsters, grouped with Coutinho and Braithwaite. The second-half performance in many ways was better than the first half, with players young and agile constantly moving about and beautifully circulating the ball. Konrad, Trincao, Puig, De Jong were all exceptional in the second half, but Trincao stole the show when he put out his quality on display. He showed how useful he can be on the right flank, as he can provide width and cut in to create/score. This second half side are actually capable of an aggressive press that Barca have needed desperately in so long. A lot of promise shown tonight, and Koeman has a big task ahead of him to sort out a team that can play to his juego de pocision based 4-2-3-1, which is most likely what he would implement for the first team.
Sahil: “Some solved, some yet to be solved”
The first Half:
Barca played in a 4-2-3-1 with Busquets dropping in between or ahead of CB’s. Sometimes, they even formed a diamond pattern at the back to create 4v2 superiority against Nastic forwards. Pedri juggled around both half-spaces and made lots of horizontal movements. His passing reminded me of Messi. Pedri also occupied correct pockets of spaces. As the game progressed, it became evident that Alba wasn’t able to make overlapping runs. This stagnated attack from the left. Since Alba wasn’t able to provide width, Dembele started from the wide left and then used to cut on to his right foot towards inner spaces. Barca had more possession but the opposition scored the goal from zone 14 with none of the players tried to defend the shot. This clearly speaks that the defence is washed up. In the middle third progression, Side passes were still visible and Koeman can’t do a thing about it unless he plays youngsters as much as possible. A positive throughout FC Barcelona vs Nastic was that players were actually occupying important zones of the pitch and were trying to stretch the pitch wide(which the team didn’t do earlier). To be very honest, I wasn’t aware that Griezmann is playing until he stepped up to take that penalty.
As Koeman promised, the whole eleven was changed for the second half. Finally, all the young players alongside Braithwaite and Coutinho were fielded. In the early minutes itself, Junior and Konrad started to form a good understanding of each other’s movements. Unlike the first half, the players were fluid in movement making it hard for Nastic to track them. Braithwaite was operating as free 9 and dropping off constantly, this made the team pass to each other for no reason since there was no focal point. With younger blood on the pitch, the ball circulation was faster and more accurate. As the game progressed, the players were coming up with good ideas to beat Nastic defensive block. In the midfield, Frenkie showed that he can be at his best in double pivot role but Puig’s abilities as other pivot hindered his natural game of an interior. In the winger’s department, both Konrad and Trincao were on fire especially Trincao. He was also making defensive shifts to help the team recover possession.
FC Barcelona vs Nastic can’t be judged entirely as it was just a friendly. But, some of Barcelona’s issues are solved and some core issues are still present. It will be interesting to see how Koeman resolves them.
Adithya: “Barca can only go up from here”
The have showed much of what is expected in a pre season friendly with most players taking simpler options and safe dribbles to win their place in the team. As expected, Koeman played a 4-2-3-1 with Aleña having a free role with the full backs occupying roles that they enjoy- Roberto more in the half space while Alba is more wider. Pedri especially was very bright coming from the right and tried to balance with Messi who played in the middle. Other than most other situations in the first half most common were the 4-2-3-1 variations. In the second half of FC Barcelona vs Nastic, as promised by Koeman, the whole team was changed to give players chances. The surprising post was playing Riqui Puig deeper as a double pivot asking with Frenkie. The latter enjoyed freedom to dribble diagonally from deep in the key half space centrally to release the ball. On the other hand the wings breathed fresh air with Konrad in the left and trincão, both of whom enjoyed spells of 1v1 dribbling. The latter especially dropped deep in his half space to help Coutinho (Who played as a #10 and dropped in the space left by Frenkie) to progress the ball with semedo playing much wider. Riqui Puig enjoyed some bright moments trying to force through balls in the gap left in the back line. Defensively the team played in a 4-4-2, but were found lacking especially in the wide areas especially with the winners dropping deep. Overall, not much should be read into from FC Barcelona vs Nastic as Barça can only go up from here.