How Barcelona Will Change Tactically With Neymar on the Field
Or rather, how they might not change tactically at all.
Many, admittedly outside of Barcelona, called for revolution as the tired legs of Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez were knocked down like skittles by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
That shouldn't be needed though. A whole philosophy is not thrown out the window on the back of one horror show—even if it was a bad one. Evolution is what is needed at Camp Nou.
Tito Vilanova needs to freshen his squad up, to keep them on their toes, and the signing of Neymar is the first step towards doing so.
Bleacher Report extensively reviewed the many ways which Neymar and Lionel Messi could dovetail in various attacking systems, but it seems he'll simply fit in to the current Barcelona setup in his normal position:
“[He'll play] on the left wing, as he played at Santos,” Carles Puyol told a journalist in New York (via football-espana.net)—supposedly unaware he was speaking with a journalist. He also said that David Villa would leave this summer.
Barcelona's 2011 Champions League success came with a front three of (left to right) David Villa, Lionel Messi and Pedro Rodriguez. The decline in that front three has been borne due to a number of factors.
First of all there was the injury to David Villa, then there has been the inconsistency of Pedro over the past two seasons and finally the increased dependence on Messi.
Neymar, 21, arrives with a point to prove in Europe. If he's to fill the left side, it leaves Pedro, Alexis Sanchez and Cristian Tello to battle it out for the slot on the right-hand side. It could be the antidote to reducing reliance on Messi; Neymar on one side and increased competition on the other.
Behind them it's unlikely that Vilanova will switch from his revered midfield of Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. What will be important this following season though is that he manages the transition of a Xavi replacement into the side—which, providing he remains with the club, means Thiago Alcantara.
At 33, with the role he plays, Xavi could still have many more good years for la Blaugrana, but the transition is not about him. It's about making sure when the day comes, Thiago—or someone else—is able to seamlessly take his place.
Then of course, there's the defense. Barcelona's defending has come under scrutiny in the past, and it is true that they need to buy a central defender—once again though, this shouldn't lead to a tactical revolution.
Like Neymar coming in for David Villa, a new defender can come in and partner Gerard Pique, leaving Javier Mascherano to provide backup and rotation for both defense and midfield.
Barcelona don't need a tactical overhaul, they just need to add some energy. Luckily Tito seems to know that according to quotes reported by the Guardian:
"Every squad needs to be changed to some degree, but we have a good squad. We don't need a lot of changes."
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