Barcelona fc win against Huesca was certainly a morale booster for the Blaugrana’s after their disappointing draw vs Eibar in the previous match due to defensive mishap. Barcelona narrowly edged out a 1-0 win with a lot of ball possession and a rigid opposition block.
In this article, I will try to dissect on how Barcelona fc panned out the winner and what problems did Barcelona faced throughout the 90 min at Estadio El Alcoraz.
A quick reminder of the formation used by both the teams.
Michel swapped out Okazaki, Ferreiro, Lopez and Rico who all started in the Celta game and replaced with Gomez, Rafa Mir, Seoane and Insua in the eleven.
For Barcelona fc, Busquets started in place of Pjanic and the Frenchman Ousmane Dembele was also back in the eleven with Koeman shifting back to the 4-3-3 formation.
Huesca from the first minute sat down in a very deep and compressed block. Their idea was to completely clog the 18-yard box with more and more bodies in the box. Only Rafa Mir(CF) was outside.
Huesca centrally squeezed the entire vertical space. This way, it became impossible for Barcelona to penetrate via the central channel. In this scenario, the team found 2 possible ideas to score.
Barcelona fc exploring their ideas:
I found out that Barcelona fc used 2 patterns in the entirety of the match.
It’s a 3v2 situation. Dembele moved inside squaring the ball to Alba on the wide left. Alba being good in 1v1 with good space and time, he can whip a cross into the box.
Alba successfully crossed the ball via overlap. In the box, Braithwaite(highlighted) tries to score from the near post but misses the opportunity.
Pedri who is in the centre times his run from the centre and founds himself free with the keeper but fails to score and the keeper makes a good save.
This way, Alba whipped in 3 chance creating crosses in the first 10 minutes of the game.
The 2nd pattern is something I was expecting the team to do for a long time but this time, they successfully applied it.
Alba has the ball and is about to cross but Dembele who is on the edge of the box has some space, so Alba cutbacks it to Dembele.
Pedri spots the vacant space in the near post and patiently waits.
He then makes a timely run in the space on the blindside of the player and the player covering him is caught watching the ball.
Pedri tries to score via header but misses it.
After Pedri not able to score past, his midfield partner tries to do the same but with a different outcome.
Messi possesses the ball in the left half-space with 3 players for linkup play.
Braithwaite has pinned both the CB’s and makes a decoy run.
That decoy run is made to create space for FDJ who already initiated the deep run and Messi successfully spotted him for the chip. The player Braithwaite pinned identifies that but is late to catch up with FDJ who goes on to score the only goal of the night.
Like every other non-possession oriented La Liga team, Huesca also devised to sit deep and then attack Barcelona in transition with more numbers. But this never worked for Huesca since Barcelona saw the most on the ball throughout the game.
Huesca, on the other hand, had only one player as an outlet during the transition but somehow Barcelona made sure that he is stopped even before he has options to pass the ball.
Even if Huesca tried to build something, they somehow lost the ball in the final third and hence Ter Stegen was free from the clutches of making some acrobatic or important saves.
This is also shown in the xG map of the match.
Barcelona certainly is happy with the 3 points but the worrying signs are still there since Barcelona had an xG(expected goals) of 3+ but somehow they managed to score only one goal. This indicates that finishing is still an issue with Messi not able to rack up goals like before.
Nonetheless, Barcelona will now face Athletic Bilbao away at San Mames who yesterday announced the sacking of Garitano and announced their manager Marcelino. For a quick recap, Marcelino was the coach of Valencia when he won the Copa Del Rey finals against Barcelona in 2018/19.