It is fair to say that things haven’t gone as expected for F.C Barcelona under Setien. Since his appointment, his tenure has been riddled with problems. We have seen some minor improvements since Setien took over, but those haven’t been enough. It seems like Setien has lost the dressing room. Messi hasn’t been at his best under him either. It also looks very likely that he would get the sack if he can’t produce results any further. Since the reports of Setien possibly leaving broke out, Garcia Pimienta’s name was also thrown out by several media outlets. It is a real possibility that Pimienta could replace Setien as the Head Coach. But Is Garcia Pimienta The Right Man To Replace Quique Setien at F.C Barcelona? Let’s find out.
Who is Garcia Pimienta?
García Pimienta: “I don’t understand any other style than Barcelona’s”
Garcia Pimienta(full name: Francisco Javier García Pimienta) is a former footballer who played as a left-winger and is now the Coach of The Barcelona B Team. He is the only Barcelona Coach that has stayed the longest. He has been working as a coach at Barcelona since 2001. Pimienta previously won The UEFA Youth League with Juvenil A, by beating Chelsea 3-0 in the final. He also spent more than two seasons as an assistant coach for Barça B. Pimienta only recently made his move as the Barcelona B Head Coach on April 25, 2018.
The 45-Year-Old has been instrumental in some of La Masia’s talent growth. Barcelona B is still fighting for promotion, but Pimienta has got them playing some great football. Garcia Pimienta is determined to implement the Barcelona philosophy and to train and bring up Youth.
“I really wanted to coach the B team, it’s a major challenge. My role is to form and train players, and this will not change”
“I have been at Barça for many years, and I don’t understand the game in any other way than our style”
Source: F.C Barcelona
Tactics and Formations
Style of Play: Attacking, positive, and expansive.
Preferred Formation(s): 4-3-3 (81%), 4-1-4-1(8%), 4-2-3-1(6%)
As mentioned above, the classic 4-3-3 is Pimienta’s preferred formation, though he doesn’t shy away from occasionally using the other two.
Tactically, he sets up his team in exactly the way we would expect. It is almost always high pressing, positionally-strict, possession football. The Tiki-Taka Style of play has been very much present and has been flourishing at Barca B since Garcia Pimienta at the helm.
The average possession of Barca B throughout the season was 62.16%, which is excellent. In typical Tiki-Taka style, everything starts from the defense, with a high-line.
The Full-backs push up but usually don’t go past the halfway line in the initial stage. The Centre-Backs(typically good, ball-playing ones) also push up to find space. They look to link up with the midfield or, in some cases, even the Forwards(if they can see that pass). Once some spaces open up, and the link-up is successful, the Full-Backs push even higher up. Often in-behind the defense (if the opportunity presents itself).
A Centre-back also sometimes invites press to open up some space, once a space-opening pass is made, always to a free man, a counter-attacking possibility becomes very real. If the Centre-back finds a forward and spaces open up, the winger usually tries to find the run of an overlapping Full-back via a through ball. That creates a goalscoring opportunity.
Against High Pressing teams:
But of course, this tactic doesn’t always work, and this isn’t their primary source of creation. If the opposition is pressing really high up the pitch and not allowing any space, they try to keep the ball. This is aided by the great Rondo technique.
The team overloads the side they’re being pressed in and try to practice ‘The El Rondo.’ They form triangles or come really short and narrow to receive and pass the ball. This lures more opposition players in and leaves a lot of space on one of the flanks(look at the picture down below).
Once space is opened up, one of the players can either find the opposite flank through a long ball or the closest free winger through a simple pass. The players should be very versatile, positionally aware, quick, and good passers for this to work correctly. This technique could create some very decent chances.
Against Tight Defensive Blocks:
If you’re a team that likes to keep the ball, well, then perhaps the most significant issue you’ll face is an extremely defensive, deep, and narrow block. We’ve seen the first team struggle a lot against low-block teams in recent years. The B team faces this problem too, but they usually try to overcome it better.
The B team uses a similar approach to the First team, using quick movement and circulating the ball as much and as fast as they can by Shifting from side to side quickly, using full-backs to make overlapping runs, trying to find that defense-splitting pass, playing one-twos, using the full width of the pitch, and using low crosses. The first team struggles at this due to a lack of wingers and creativity from midfield. But the second team has many decent wingers to exploit the spaces. Let’s not forget some quality creative midfielders like Puig and Monchu, either.
In 2019, the Barcelona B team averaged 4.93 passes per possession and also managed an average of 15.99 passes per minute. They even managed an average of 86.5% passing accuracy and have sent 61.41 balls into the final third with 81.08 progressive passes with 74% and 76.4% accuracy, respectively. Those are fantastic stats and clear examples that this team is quick and progressive and creative.
Barcelona’s defensive style has mostly always been High Pressing. However, Barca B’s defensive Set-up isn’t entirely based around High Pressing, they press teams a lot, but it is more of a systematic, calculated press induced by triggers. If they’re in a bad position in a game, they do opt for high pressing. Sometimes even up to four players press a single player to get the ball back. During 2019 across all competitions, they averaged 77 recoveries. Once again, those are pretty good numbers. If they’re against a vast team, however, they don’t shy away from sitting back for a while and defending. Everything in the defensive phase depends on the situation. It is a very tactically, well set-up team.
This source inspired some of the information from this tactical Overview.
Apart from being a decent coach when it comes to tactics, Garcia Pimienta is also great at man-management and bringing up youngsters. He has already proved it.
Can he handle Player Power?
As stated before, Garcia Pimienta has been working at F.C Barcelona since 2001. He knows the club in & out. He knows the players more than Valverde or Setien did. The 45-year-old has worked and engaged with some of the ‘heavy-weights’ in the Barcelona Dressing Room before as well. We never know for sure, though. Fans thought Setien would be able to command the dressing room, but he hasn’t been able to do that at all. Some fans(and pundits) also think Pimienta won’t be able to command respect from the players. This is something we will have to wait and see about, but I believe Pimienta might be able to solve some of these problems.
To conclude everything, I would say Pimienta is an excellent choice to replace Setien. I would’ve preferred him to be appointed in January when Valverde was sacked. But you never know what this Board can do. He loves the club, he is faithful to the philosophy and the style of play, Pimienta knows the club in & out, and he is a fine all-round coach. He would also bring up Youth and use more players from the B team. Barcelona should Promote him if Setien doesn’t work out.
Promoting Pep Guardiola was a huge gamble, but it ultimately birthed the most exceptional Football Team ever to grace a football pitch. Of course, not everyone is Pep Guardiola, but promoting Pimienta could work out well.
If you liked the above analysis, check out a review of Setien’s tenure here.