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FC Barcelona: Predicting How Barça Will Line Up Tactically vs. Atletico Madrid

Andres EhrliCorrespondent IIISeptember 22, 2011

FC Barcelona: Predicting How Barça Will Line Up Tactically vs. Atletico Madrid

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    FC Barcelona will receive Atlético Madrid at the Camp Nou this Saturday at 2 p.m. EDT, and we're all wondering who and how Josep Guardiola will play after they tied 2-2, both using the infamous 3-4-3 and the 4-3-3 against Valencia at Mestalla on their La Liga mid-week match.

    Atlético are off to an impressive start themselves, recently winning 4-0 against Sporting Gijón at the Vicente Calderón in a game where new signing Radamel Falcao scored two, was disallowed one and set up another in the Colchonero win.

    It will be a tough game for sure for Pep Guardiola, and it will be interesting to see just how he prepares for it tactically. This slideshow will try to analyze some of the alternatives he could use against Atlético this weekend and eventually predict whom he will start on Saturday evening.

Option 1: 3-3-1-3 with Dani Alves as a Winger

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    Lineup

                          Valdés

        Mascherano   Puyol     Abidal

                          Keita

                   Xavi         Busquets

                       Fábregas

    Alves             Messi         Pedro/Villa

     

    Used Against: Valencia (first half), Osasuna

     

    This is the formation Barça used against Valencia for the disastrous first half on Wednesday. 

    Even though I think it will work way better in the wider, longer Camp Nou field (see Osasuna 8-0), I don't think Pep will come out with this one again soon.

    Dani Alves is not a winger, and while Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi together is a tempting prospect for Pep, he has to find something else for Alves to do, or bench him altogether when using the 3-3-1-3.

    Also, against Falcao, Arda Turan and Jose Reyes, I wouldn't play three-on-three by any means (I'll explain why in a bit).

Option 2: 3-4-3 with All Midfielders; Alves on the Bench

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    Lineup

                          Valdés

      Mascherano    Puyol     Abidal

                        Busquets

                   Xavi         Thiago

                       Fábregas

    Pedro            Messi               Villa

     

    Used Against: Villarreal

     

    The formation that everybody was amazed with after the 5-0 thrashing of Villarreal hasn't been used in the same fashion since. 

    The Valencia 3-4-3 was similar, but it did have true fullbacks in Alves and Eric Abidal as the defenders, so it doesn't quite count.

    This formation is a very good option, and I like it way better than the 3-3-1-3 with Alves as a winger, but as I said, Atletico's strong striking force will probably demand four defenders at the back.

    Don't be surprised if you see this lineup on the pitch on Saturday, though. 

Option 3: 3-4-3 with Busquets and Mascherano Playing as Defenders

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    Lineup

                          Valdés

      Mascherano    Busquets   Abidal

                          Keita

                   Xavi         Thiago

                       Fábregas

    Pedro            Messi               Villa

     

    Used Against: Villarreal

     

    The Camp Nou is so wide that if you have the ball, opponents just can't get it back from you.

    With this line of thought, it might be worthwhile fielding Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano as CBs to have better playmaking from the back, and adding Seydou Keita as a DMF to add more men in the midfield.

    It's a risky formation, but there are two ways to stop a team from scoring: One is marking them, and the other is not giving them the ball so they don't have a chance to.

    I think there's a good chance Guardiola uses Busi on the back line, but I would prefer a more cautious approach against Atlético, myself. 

Option 4: The "Classic" 4-3-3

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    Lineup

                          Valdés

    Alves        Puyol     Abidal    Adriano

                          Busquets

                    Xavi         Fábregas

    Pedro            Messi                  Villa

     

    Used Against: Everybody

     

    Ah, the vintage 4-3-3 that we've seen so little of this season.

    Guardiola reverted to it against Valencia in the second half, and the team looked way better. 

    It also returns Alves to the spot where he's the best in the world, with Fábregas filling in as CMF where one would usually have Andres Iniesta. 

    Odds are very high this is what we'll see come Saturday.

Option 5: The "Classic" 4-3-3 with Cesc as a Winger; Thiago in MF

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    Lineup

                          Valdés

    Alves        Puyol     Abidal    Adriano

                         Busquets

                    Xavi         Thiago

    Fábregas       Messi           Villa       

     

    Used Against: none (so far)

     

    Yet what I would field is this. A faux 4-3-3 that is more of a 4-4-2 with Fábregas in the wide playmaking role that Iniesta sometimes plays in. 

    That way you keep the extremely successful Messi-Cesc combo up front with Thiago Alcantara holding Iniesta's role on midfield. 

    Abidal could see a return to his CB role too, with Adriano Correia set to play a more offensive role and to deal with Reyes' pace and cuts to the middle.

    I just don't think you can do much better than this against Atlético on Saturday.

    However, even when I listed five alternatives, I'm sure Pep has a plan of his own for Gregorio Manzano's squad.

    We'll just have to wait a few to days to find out what he has in store now.

     

    Follow FC Andrés Ehrli on Twitter (@ehrli) or read his other Bleacher Report articles here. 

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