UWCL: Some key tactical excerpts of Barcelona Femeni

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Barcelona Femeni had a good season after winning the Primera Iberdrola title this season for the fifth time in the history after the team secured 59 points ie., 9 points more than the second-placed Atletico Madrid.

The team reached the semi-finals of the Copa de SM La Reina and was scheduled to meet Sevilla before the Corona pandemic. We do not forget the team’s significant result against Real Sociedad in the Super Copa Femenina finals after winning 10-1 against them.

Despite losing 1-0 in the Women’s Champions League semi-finals a few days ago, the team did pretty well throughout the season, accompanied by coach Lluís Cortés.

In this tactical analysis, we will try to understand some of the approaches employed by the team in the UWCL season from a few selective matches.

Barcelona Femeni’s formation and key players

With coach Lluís Cortés, the team was present in a clear and impressive collective form throughout the season, where all the players participated in scoring goals and creating chances.

Asisat Oshoala, the Nigerian striker, was magnificent this season after scoring 23 goals and creating three assists, and forward Jenifer Hermoso also scored 20 and created four assists.

But the duo on the sides, the Norwegian, Caroline Graham Hansen on the right side and the Dutch forward, Lieke Martens on the left, did had a fair season, providing many assists from the sides and was a potent solution for the team.

The duo made 21 assists this season, specifically, Caroline Graham Hansen, who created 14 goals for her teammates, with both Alexia Putellas and Kheira Hamraoui in the middle of the field to build-up the play and secure the rise of the left and right backs.

Barcelona Femeni lineup

This is the shape on the pitch.

Build-up phase 

Coach Lluís Cortés relies on building play on expanding the playing field from the sides, whether from the backs remaining on the line with the entry of Lieke Martens and Caroline Graham Hansen, or the opposite.

And here is another idea, which is for one of the players at the right or left back to settle to become in the third centre of defence, along with the other advancing vertically.

The coach’s ideas revolve around direct play in the space to the left and right wings, which we will notice in the coming examples.

build1 2

Here we find at the beginning of the attack by Barcelona Femeni in the backline, Maria, the right-back, has advanced, with the left-back remaining in the back as the third centre of defence.

We note here the idea of ​​expanding the stadium with reliance on the formation of the fronts to become more collectively played with the overlapping process of the wing and midfielders.

Another idea is to have the ball on one side and then change the direction of play to the other end specifically towards Lieke martens on the left side, creating overloads towards one side of the pitch followed by the switch in play to create space and attack. This particularly works well when teams are aggressively man-marking.

build2 2

Here we can observe Barcelona Femeni with the acquisition of the right side in the case of four players against four from Atlético, in an attempt to pull the opposing team horizontally and empty the left side to make Martinez in a PvP situation.
build3 3

We notice that the French midfielder has possession of the ball in the middle of the field and tries to change the field, resorting to Martens, who is standing in a single space.

Barcelona Femeni finds it challenging to build play from the depth and exit with the ball, which makes the team permanently resort to the sides.

This made the team’s offensive ideas focused on the sides significantly, whether from the backs of the wings.

Attacking from flanks 

We will always find the ball in the last third of the court on one side, with more than one player flocking into the opponent’s penalty area and filling the void.

Moving vertically from the attacking duo next to the players of the sides means there is more than one solution when playing the cross ball inside the area.

What gives these ideas strength is the presence of Caroline Graham Hansen on the line to expand the field at the right end, and then move horizontally.

attack1

Here we see with the cross-ball play, perfect distribution of Barcelona Femeni players, a player on the near post, a player in the middle, and Caroline on the right, with a distinct cross from Leila Ouahabi, to use the space in the opponent’s defence.
attack2

Here and when the ball reached Caroline Hansen, we find her instinctive vision of distributing the ball again towards Asisat Oshoala, which she was able to score quickly.

Caroline Graham Hansen has 47% successful key passes, which makes her an essential player in the assisting stage in the attack, especially with her impressive cross balls.

attack3

Here we see her making a unique cross again, which resulted in a goal because the third offensive players stormed the space left by the opponent’s defenders.

She was the player with most cross balls with a score of 94 balls and with a success rate of 25%, and that resulted in the scoring of a set of goals.

attack4

Here we see when the team switches from defence to attack, Asisat Oshoala moves on the right side, which clears up space and the team can shift from the depth and the defensive block of the opponent to the right side.
attack5

Here we notice the occasional ball playing in the space coming from behind, which added up to the score after it penetrated the room on the boundaries of the penalty area.

The team moves well with the ball as a group and goes to the opposing team’s penalty area, which means finding lots of solutions for the ball carrier.

As the team attacks as a group, it also defends as a group, which is what we will notice when the ball is lost.

Barcelona Femeni off the ball

The team applies the idea of ​​high pressure on the ball carrier from the last third collectively to make it challenging to build the attack, which is illustrated with figure 4-4-2 on the field.

The defensive elements in the team also have a good success percentage in individual defensive situations, reaching more than 77% ؜, which is collected in the interest of the group.

With the adoption of a high line of defence and convergence of bars to try and isolate the opponent’s midfield from his line of attack, which is explained in the next examples.

def1

Here we notice a high defensive line with an increase in the number of Barcelona Femeni players towards the ball to reduce the solutions of the ball carrier with pressure on him and resort to the long ball.
def2 2

Here we notice in the build-up phase of play for Atletico the presence of 7 Barcelona players in front of 7 players from Atletico in an attempt to pressure and make it challenging to build the game, which is what happened through the goalkeeper who played the long ball.

The team always focuses on hijacking the ball quickly when it loses a third of the opposing team, and this is due to the excellent positioning of the players.

def3 2

Here we see that the Barcelona Femeni player cut the ball at the edge of the opponent’s penalty area after losing after the defence dispersed the corner kick.
def4 2

Here we can observe the distance between Barcelona’s defence line and the first player to press, and we find that it is approximately 25 meters with individual pressure on the opponent’s players.

Barcelona Femeni uses a high defensive line with the application of pressure and the bars close to each other, and this is the most critical idea of ​​the team in defence.

But those thoughts of high pressure, with or without the ball, cause defensive transformation problems.

Barcelona Femeni’s defensive transition issues

The team suffered during the defensive transformation and returned to the first third due to the large backs leaving the spaces.

issue1

Here, in the counterattack of Atletico, we see the space left by the left-back for Barcelona to stutter and pressure, which emptied the area for the next player from behind to front.
issue2

Numerical superiority in favour of Atletico Madrid in the last third due to the rapid vertical movement of the players, which shows problems in positioning among Barcelona Femeni players.
issue3

Again, here space appears on the sides, which makes the opposing team move to it, and here the attackers have the advantage.
issue4

Again, the goal that took Barcelona Femeni out of the Champions League semi-finals was due to the complete satisfaction of the winger from the German club Wolfsburg on the side who played the cross ball with the absence of coverage by the left-back.

Barcelona Femeni is a distinguished team and has excellent style and players, but it has some problems. This was one of them.

Conclusion 

In this report, we tried to show what the style of Barcelona Femeni was and how they performed in the UWCL this season from some selective matches. The method of building attacks from relying on the flanks and positioning when losing the ball is some problems Barcelona Femeni need to address.

 

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