Tactical analysis: How will Miralem Pjanic contribute to Barcelona system?

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FC Barcelona and Juventus have reached an agreement for the transfer of player Miralem Pjanić to join the Spanish team and will leave the Brazilian man Arthur Melo to the Italian side.

It was like a shock deal to Barcelona fans who have been associated with the Brazilian player since he came to the team. Still, maybe with some discipline and other things, Barcelona forced Arthur Melo to go in this deal.

And if we will talk about next season, the focus of Barcelona supporters over the world, about how Miralem Pjanić will contribute to Barcelona system?

Attacking contribution

If we compare Miralem Pjanić and  Arthur Melo with some attacking statistics, we will notice that the Bosnian player had expected goal (xG) 0.99 this season, and Arthur had 0.96 (xG), which means convergence in that statistics.

But we will speak more tactically than statistically, Barcelona usually suffer against defensive teams, who have been well-organized in the first third. 

In such cases, we can talk about one of the essential advantages of Miralem Pjanić, which is long-range shots from outside the penalty area, as we will see in the next examples. 

3 1Here we must notice his vertical movement toward the opponent area, where Juventus make the build-up phase, to be an additional option in the final third for reducing the numerical superiority.3 2

Here we will see his ability to shoot from long-range and score the goal. This feature will benefit Barcelona a lot, as most of the teams resort to defending the zonal-marking against Barcelona in an attempt to break the blocks with that advantage of the Bosnian international.

As there are not many Barcelona players thinking of shooting from outside the penalty area, like the last four matches, Barcelona lost 6 points with three draws. All players attempted to break into the opponent’s defense block by short passes on the pitch vertically or horizontally.

Besides that, Miralem Pjanić is fluent in the vertical assist from depth areas of the pitch, which is a problem of innovation within the team. With expected help (xA) 1.77 this season.

The Spanish league key passes are led by Lionel Messi, with 72 key passes. From Real Madrid, two players stand out in the first ten positions, Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema (57 and 54, respectively). In the early 30 situations, Dani Carvajal and Luka Modric also come (40 passes and then 34).

Barcelona’s problem is that the closest person to Lionel Messi in the key passes is 39th on the list, Antoine Griezmann, with 29 assists, and he is also a striker.

The numbers confirm what we see on the field, Barcelona has neither midfield nor rivals, Messi does everything offensively, and whoever helps him shyly are the strikers (Suarez is 47th). We will see this ability in the next examples.

1

Here we could see his positioning to intercept the pass from an Inter Milan player and close the ball lanes. And cut the ball in the middle third to make counter-pressing quickly when the team have the possession. 

2

Here we can see his decision to play long-range pass from deep to make Paulo Dybala in front of the opponent goalkeeper and score the goal. 

In another source, one of the first 50 players to submit key passes comes from Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (ninth) Karim Benzema (11), Dani Carvajal (22), Luka Modric (34), while Barcelona, ​​Lionel Messi (the first), and Antoine Griezmann (42).

Real Madrid is diverse. It turns out that there is action on all lines offensively, from back to the center to attackers.

Miralem Pjanić, the newly-transferred Juventus player to Barcelona, ​​isn’t the most distinguished in his team on this thing as well, where he is preceded by Paulo Dybala, with 54 passes, then Cristiano Ronaldo with 40 passes, and he is behind them with 37 passes and in the 31st position among the Italian league players in this year.

However, Miralem Pjanić creates better opportunities for Barcelona midfielders, de Jong, for example, the best Barcelona players in this aspect have provided only 22 critical passes throughout the season.

So we do not rule out Barcelona is looking for a solution to the weak team’s midfield problem in innovation and leadership, which leaves everything for Messi. Pjanic, despite his decline, but It remains an acceptable solution compared to the current situation. 

Here I do not justify, but we must understand that Barcelona is trying to find a solution rather than stand by and watch what is happening. Don’t forget that Griezmann is thinking of selling him because he did not fit into the team, and he is the best player in this aspect after Messi.

Defensive style

Miralem Pjanić also defend in the event of a ball loss, and we can talk here about his most significant advantages at that point, which is to make the right decision and not take the right action, what does this mean?

Miralem Pjanić moves distinctly without the ball in the defensive slit, to close the pass passes to the players of the opposing team, as he recovered the ball from the competitors by up to 7.97 per game we will see in the next examples.def1 1

Here we see his return to the following areas when the ball is lost to Inter Milan, as he tries to close the lane passes to Inter striker Romelu Lukaku inside the Juventus penalty area.def2

Here we see his success in that idea where he was able with his decision to return to cover the area behind Juan Cuadrado, the right-back, to cut the ball before it reached the Inter Milan striker.

Arthur Melo had a small percentage to retrieve the balls. He possessed only 3.50 per game, and it is one of the biggest problems of Barcelona, where the team missed many things that characterized it, including retrieving the balls significantly.def3

Here we can see Miralem Pjanić being positioned on the center circle when Inter Milan acquired the ball in an attempt to direct play towards Juventus. Miralem Pjanić is trying to return quickly to cover the space in front of the defense line.def4

Here we see Pjanic cut the ball from Matias in the middle of the field to spoil the idea of playing deep inside the area.

Miralem Pjanić will be supportive in his defense style, next to Sergio Busquets if the coach decides to push him as one of the two supporters. Still, some points must be worked on to support Barcelona method.

Something needs to be improved

Some things need to be improved in his performance to support the team more, and they are tackling and aerial Duels, he made the tackles 58 times in this season with Juventus and the national team.

He succeeded in 41 attempts, including 24 in the defensive third, 26 in the middle third, and 8 in the offensive third.

In Barcelona, the situation will change, it will require cutting the ball in advanced areas when the ball is lost to apply the back pressure, and the team returns to the possession situation.

Conclusion

In this analysis, we tried to showcase the offensive capabilities of Miralem Pjanić and defensive style, which are sure to add to the quality of players in the Barcelona midfield.

Regardless of the age factor, but it will be a distinct solution for the team, especially in the offensive phase. 

We were bearing in mind some points that Miralem must improve in the defensive part, as mentioned.

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