How Neymar Would Fit in Tactically with Barcelona

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How Neymar Would Fit in Tactically with Barcelona
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Brazilian sensation Neymar is all but set to join Barcelona's ranks this summer and so we all now wonder, will he be worth all the fuss?

If he is to be Tito Vilanova's first signing for 2013-2014, it is because the Catalans see him as a "crack" who can add a much needed cutting edge in their final third. 

The 21-year-old theoretically brings creativity, panache and direction to an attacking trident increasingly reliant on the brilliance of Lionel Messi.

 

Trident Persists

Barca's drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich has led to plenty of speculation over the extent to which Tito Vilanova should change his team for next season.

Defence is Barcelona's main concern, but solving the now apparent "Messidependencia" will be high on their list of priorities as well.

With that being said, it is unlikely Barca will stray from their familiar offense of three—mainly because the attacking system has not been the problem but rather the personnel and their tactical instructions.

Pedro Rodriguez, formerly praised for his incisive attacking movement and finishing, has been reduced to a human pinball bumper. The ball goes out there, and he just knocks it back.

The Spanish international averaged just 1.4 shots per game this season (statistic via WhoScored.com).

An attacking trident would also be the best way to accommodate Neymar, who often drifts off to the left and enjoys running onto his preferred right foot.

While Barcelona have used a No. 9 in front of Messi to good effect at times this season, that role is not one the Brazilian starlet is normally comfortable in.

Expect Neymar to generally play off the left flank.

 

Creating Space

In his role out wide, Neymar's primary role will be to create space for himself and his teammates.

Barcelona's game is all about space on the field, and if they cannot find it, they suffer.

The current problem is that only Messi really has the creativity and dribbling ability to unlock a stubborn defensive block.

With Neymar's arrival, Messi will have to cede some creative responsibility and freedom to the Brazilian if they are to flourish together.

Similarly, Neymar must improve his off-ball movement and accept that he will not enjoy the same talismanic role he has at Santos.

If Vilanova allows Neymar his necessary freedom, however, the Brazilian should theoretically create plenty of goalscoring opportunities in a Blaugrana shirt.

After all, the Neymar purchase is all about reducing the goalscoring burden currently weighing on the shoulders of the great Argentine No. 10.

 

'The Other Guy'

David Ramos/Getty Images

Of course, Neymar and Messi are just two in a trio, and despite their ability, plenty of responsibility falls to "the other guy."

If Barcelona are to rediscover their devastatingly effective pressing game, then Neymar will undoubtedly have to improve his work rate—as will Messi.

Ultimately, however, a lot of the "heavy lifting" in Barca's attacking third will fall upon the shoulders of the third forward.

Whether it be Alexis, Pedro or another new signing, it is vital that this third forward works hard, provides attacking width and makes penetrating runs in behind the defensive line.

Barcelona have fervently pursued Neymar because they understand that they need another dribbler and creative influence in the forward line—a player who not only scores goals but also creates space and opportunities for his teammates.

One thing is for sure, if Neymar does half as well in the Blaugrana as other Brazilian stars before him—Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Romario—the Camp Nou will have a new name to chant next season.

 

How would Neymar fit in with Messi & Co. at the Camp Nou? What tactical variations could Barca use next season?

Follow Kieran Sobels on Twitter: 

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