FC Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid CF: Tactical Analysis on Barça's Supercopa Win

Andres Ehrli@@ehrliCorrespondent IIIAugust 18, 2011

FC Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid CF: Tactical Analysis on Barça's Supercopa Win

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    FC Barcelona have won the Spanish Supercopa 3-2 against longtime rivals Real Madrid, in what was really a fun and entertaining football match.

    The tactical battle was on as well, and both Mourinho and Pep Guardiola had some surprises for this match. 

    Move on to the next slide for a full tactical analysis for each of the game's halves and to find out which tactical player matchup won Barcelona their first title of the season and just what Cesc Fábregas meant for the Catalans in his debut.  

First Half: Mourinho Presses Forward, Pep Tries To Hold the Ball

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    The Starting XIs for the Spanish Supercopa were:

    FC Barcelona (4-3-3):


    Alves   Piqué  Mascherano Abidal


               Xavi           Iniesta

    Pedro         Messi            Villa

    Lots of people expected to see new signing Cesc Fabregas out of the gate, but between him starting on the bench and Alexis getting injured before the match, Barcelona's XI was very similar to the successful vintage lineup from last season. 

    Real Madrid (4-2-3-1):


    Ramos  Carvalho  Pepe  Coentrao

                Khedira  Xabi Alonso

    Di María         Özil       Ronaldo


    On the other side of the field, Mourinho basically went out with the same players as in the first leg, subbing Coentrao in for Marcelo as a left-back.

    Madrid had basically the same idea they had the first game: come out pressing hard on the Blaugrana the first 15 minutes, hoping to get a ball on Barça's side of the pitch to find an easy goal early on. But with a minor change of plans: not playing quite as physical and trying to not commit as many fouls.

    Madrid had much less success at doing this because (news flash) Busquets, Piqué and Xavi, who were absent on Sunday, are way better at playing the ball from the back.  

    Even so, Madrid had a couple of chances to score early, but just when their pressing lowered one nudge on the intensity scale, traditional Barça roles were reversed when Messi received a free ball on the midfield and played a perfect through ball for Andrés Iniesta, who made it one nil.

    However, just five minutes later Ronaldo scored (in offside position) after a set-pieces play, one of Barça's glaring weakness.

    With the scores level, the match returned to Barça having the ball and Madrid pressing to try to get it back, yet not as intensely as it was in the first 15 minutes.

    Still, the game was quite even up to that point, and interestingly, very clean in terms of fouling and rough play by both teams. All proper football. 

    It stayed like that until the 44th minute, when Piqué and Messi made a wonderful play in Madrid's area to put Barça ahead 2-1. 

Second Half (Part 1): Mourinho & Madrid Make It a Physical Game

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    In halftime, Mourinho decided to sub Khedira out and to bring in Marcelo.


    Because he was yellow-carded.

    In other words: because his halftime plan reintroduced the physical play we had seen in the first leg, and yellow-carded Khedira would be at a disadvantage (and a probable red-card) if he continued on the pitch).

    So Madrid came out the second half playing the same 4-2-3-1 like this:


    Ramos  Carvalho  Pepe  Marcelo

              Xabi Alonso   Coentrao

    Di María         Özil       Ronaldo


    The forward pressing remained the same, but the instruction was clear. No Blaugrana should be permuted to receive the ball comfortably. And if a Barça player did, he had to be fouled. Plain and simple. 

    With this, the second part was very far away from what the first half was football-wise.  

    With the new physical style, Pepe was unleashed yet again, elbowing Messi, then Piqué and then flat out kicking Villa with the ball nowhere near.

Second Half (Part 2): Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes! (Not Good Ones)

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    Mourinho brought in Higuain and Kaka for Di María and Özil (who were spitting their lungs out because of the pressing they've done all match long) respectively, leaving the Merengue squad in faux 4-3-3, like this:


    Ramos  Carvalho  Pepe  Marcelo

              Xabi Alonso   Coentrao


         Ronaldo   Higuaín   Benzema

    Both Higuaín and Kaká looked like mere shadows of what they once were, though, and had little impact on the pitch.

    With this newfound physical matchup on the pitch, Guardiola also made some changes.

    He brought in Adriano instead of Villa so he could battle it out with Madrid the last few minutes, leaving Barça's picture on the field in a bit of a 3-5-2 (in a move I personally didn't like at the moment):


         Piqué  Mascherano Abidal

    Alves           Busquets         Adriano

               Xavi                   Iniesta

                   Messi        Pedro        

    Adriano did battle it out soon and often though. Including suffering a nightmarish tackle by Ramos a few moments after he came in as a sub.

    With the game up for grabs and without any sort of football on it, Madrid found a pot of gold in set pieces again, with Benzema making it 2-2 in the 82nd minute, just eight minutes before the final whistle.

Second Half (Part 3): Guardiola Brings in Cesc Fabregas & the 4-3-3 and Wins It

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    With the game once again on the line, Guardiola made a tactical move again to try to win it in the final minutes, bringing in new Culé Cesc Fábregas for Pedro and Keita for Busquets and moving back to a 4-3-3 with Adriano and Iniesta to the wings (like so):


    Alves   Piqué  Mascherano Abidal


               Cesc          Xavi

    Adriano        Messi         Iniesta

    The move paid-off for him big time and probably won Barcelona the game, as a combination between Messi, Cesc and Adriano in the right landed Barcelona their third goal in the 87th minute, virtually sealing the game and the Supercopa title for the Blaugrana. 

    With the score, Guardiola moved his tactics around once again, leaving both Cesc and Seydou as holding midfielders to see out the match.


    Alves   Piqué  Mascherano Abidal

                 Keita      Cesc


    Adriano        Messi         Iniesta

    There would still be time for Cesc to be baptized a true Blaugrana with a disgraceful tackle by Marcelo for which the Brazilian, Özil and Villa saw red cards for. 

Game-Winning Matchup: Alves Dries Up Cristiano Ronaldo on the Left

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    This is where Barcelona won it for me.

    After a bad game on Sunday, Dani Alves was terrific defending against one of the world's best in Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Ronaldo didn't get past him once today, and while Alves had to play a much more defensive game than what we're used to, he had a terrific match for Barcelona and helped them in their Supercopa win considerably.

    Want to know how I know Alves was great?

    Ronaldo ended the game moving to the right side of the pitch.

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