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Author: Francesco Farioli

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Barcelona vs. Atlético. Battle of the giant. Nobility against the working class. David against Goliath. Luis Enrique against Diego Pablo Simeone.

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Another Spanish derby, but two completely different football philosophies.

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On one hand a team that wants to defend the long area (Barcelona) and that loves to attack in the short area, on the other a team capable of adapting and moulding to the characteristics of its adversaries (Atlético Madrid). Simeone’s team will have its work cut out against Barca. All 11 players will need to be behind the ball and start pressing. This tactical sacrifice and defensive play are the keys to taking on Barca.

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PRESSING:
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Atlético’s pressing starts in the opposing team’s midfield. The two forwards, after the ball is passed back and forth the first time, generally press on the outside, with the forward closest to the ball closing down the return pass, while the striker on the opposite side covers the central area of the pitch. If the two strikers are unable to direct the pressing, Atlético brings the outside midfielder up toward the opponent outside back and the centre midfielder farthest away comes up to press the lower point, guaranteeing excellent defensive overlapping/displacement.

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TRANSITION PHASE AND ATTACKING THE SPACES:

Simeone’s Atlético is a team that makes running and attacking the spaces its strong point. Barcelona could struggle in the transition phase because it is a team that leaves a lot of wide open spaces both on their weak side and deep.
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This is space that can be capitalised on through a direct attack.
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In order to find some balance, Barcelona will need to rely on the courage of Marc-André ter Stegen (or Claudio Bravo) in the phase when they are defending the open space and their two best quality players, Messi and Neymar, will especially need to sacrifice. They will need to make an important contribution even in the defensive phase in order not to leave any spaces open that could prove to be a determining factor.
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BARCELONA: BUILD UP PHASE

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Barcelona sets up with the usual 4-3-3 formation in the build-up phase. This is the ideal system for creating the famous diamond formation so typical of the Catalan club.
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Unlike the usual situation, in this formation, the external strikers (Messi – Neymar) do not start off using the entire breadth of the pitch, but they play tight and close to Suarez in order to create a 3-on-2 situation in the centre, forcing the two Atlético backs to tighten up in the centre.
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Messi especially will often be in the centre looking for space between the lines and trying to free up the outer corridor so Rakitić can make his move.
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When Atlético is unable to press, leaving Pique free to set up with the ball in the open, Rakitić is able to move up along the wing in order to create four 1-on-1 situations before attacking deep.
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An open match, with no certain predictions.

It will definitely be interesting to see how these two great teams, with their respective differences and their respective qualities, face off against one another.
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Francesco Farioli
Aspire Academy (Qatar Football Association), Senior Goalkeeper Coach, Video Match & Performance Analysis.
www.francescofarioli.com

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