The 3-4-3 experiment

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Post by alexjanosik on Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:57 pm

By now its obvious that the 3-4-3 was not just a passing fancy and that its here to stay.The players have spoken about it Messi included.
We dont have a thread on it in our section.The formation has been discussed in various threads but not in a dedicated thread.
So this is the 3-4-3 thread.

I have a lot to talk about regarding the formation and probably should create separate threads so as to avoid confusion but too lazy right now.So here goes.

Every year since taking over Pep has altered the system and the way of playing.The smart man that he is,he realizes that inorder to stay at the top Barca need to continuously innovate and evolve.In his second year he sold Eto'o and brought in Ibra in what i like to call the Ibra experiment or perhaps more aptly the garbage experiment.
It didnt work out and the smart that he is,Pep relegated Ibra to the bench and kicked him out in the summer.
In his third season with the club Pep again experimented,this time a bit more radically.
He moved Messi permanently into the center in a Johan Cruyff role.In effect barca started playing without a CF.There were other minor experiments like Busquets as a sweeper in a 3-4-3.Perhaps a sign of things to come.
Fourth season in charge,Fabregas comes in and the next stage of the cycle begins.
Dream Team no. 2 now playing Cruyff's formation.
I will just list some of the main points that fascinate me.

1)The backline-We are now going to play 3 at the back.I belive in the games we have played this season there has not been a constant backline.Forced by injuries to Puyol and Pique the 3 at the back have varied.
Ideally the sweeper at the back needs to be a technical ball player with excellent passing,someone in the mould of a Koeman.
The perfect player for this role is Busquets but he is needed at the tip of the diamond.
So Pique is the next best player to play there.
Abidal to slot in at the left of the back 3 and Masch/Puyol/Alves to the right.
So our backline will look something like this.
Pique/Busquets
Masch/Puyol/Alves Abidal/Puyol/Adriano

2)The Dani Alves factor-This is the conundrum Pep has to solve.Playing a 3-4-3 will vastly reduce Alves influence in a match.Playing on the right of a back 3 he will have to play a severrely restricted role and be mostly defensive.Barca have depended a lot on Alves in an attacking sense over the past 3 years that it will affect us a lot.
Now the logical option is to play Alves as a forward to preserve his influence but he is not a great goal scorer and we need goals from our forwards.Plus if Alves plays as forward where do Pedro and Snachez(once he gets back) play?
Also against Valencia Alves didnt look entirely comfortable playing upfront.Logically he should be great playing upfront but it just doesnt work that way I suppose.Roberto Carlos was the same.
Alves is a rampaging RB and to get the best out of him we need to play him as a rampaging RB.
But to his credit Alves put in a disciplined performance against Atletico(when played on the irght in a 3 man backline) and was very good defensively.But he barely if ever got into the opponenets half(burst forward in the second half when switched to a 4-3-3).
But it was very very weird seeing Alves playing so defensively.
This is one problem that I have no idea how to solve.I hope pep has a solution cause I want to see Alves in the rampaging RB role.

3)The xavi factor-The biggest conundrum facing Pep.The 3-4-3 in my opinion reduces Xavi's influence if it is to be implemented properly.It requires the left and right midfielders in the diamond to play strict positional roles.The left midfielder needs to stay on the right and the right midfielder needs to stay on the right for the simple reason that the team needs defensive cover on the wing.A 3-4-3 has no fullbacks and hence the 2 wide midfielders will need to provide cover on the wings.
This factor was crucially exploited by Emery when we played Valencia.Xavi played on the right of the diamond.Ofcourse Xavi being Xavi,moved into the center of the pitch and tried to dominate the center.This left the right flank completely exposed and Valencia ruthlessly exploited it.
So therein lies the conundrum.If 3-4-3 is played in the strictest sense,then Xavi will have to maintain positional discipline and stay on the right of the midfield(or left if he is played there).Hence he wont be able to move all over the pitch(as he does in a 4-3-3) .So he wont be able to completely dominate the midfield and dictate the pace of the game as he normally does in a 4-3-3.
It was interesting to see Guardiola try to address this issue in the match against Atletico.Xavi again played on the right of the diamond and again he moved all over the pitch exerting his usual influence on the match.But this time he had Pedro(the forward as cover).Whenever we played defense Pedro dropped back in defense almost like a RB.
This didnt happen on the other flank where Villa was considerably higher up the pitch.
So Xavi played as he normally does.when the opposition had the ball Pedro dropped into a sort of RB role and xavi moved to press the ball.
In essence the guy on the left of the diamond(Thiago) maintained positional discipline and stayed on the left while Xavi continuously moved in.
So if I am guessing right Pep envisages something like this.Iniesta/Thiago playing on the left of the diamond maintaining strict positional discipline and generally not moving into the center.xavi nominally playing on the right of the diamond but having the license to roam and playmake as he pleases.The right forward playing a pseudo RB role also when the ball is out of our hands.
But I am not totally convinced it will work.The other team might be too quick and they may attack before Pedro has any chance of getting back.So its a risky strategy.
As we saw against Valencia,Alba and Mathieu attacked together down the left,Masch was helpless,Puyol went to cover and left Abidal alone in the center(too risky).
So how to solve the defensive problem?
Xavi maintains positional discipline thereby ensuring that there is always cover on that side.But this in turn will mean that the maestro will not be able to exert his usual mesmeric influence on a match.
I have racked my brains to try and think of a solution so that alll 3 happens.
We play a 3-4-3,our right hand side is secure and Xavi maintains his normal influence on a match.I have come up with zilch.
This is the biggest conundrum facing Pep and I hope he has an answer.

4)The transitioning-Another feature I noticed(especially in the Atletico game) was we seemed to chage formation quite regularly within games.
We started 3-4-3 but at various times during the game we switched to a 4-3-3. Busquets would drop back into defense to make it a 4 man backline.It was done so smoothly that it was barely noticeable.It was totally fascinating and brilliant to watch.And I couldnt help but feel a sense of pride that I support this great great team.Had any other team tried to do it,would have ended up looking foolish and got totally decimated.

5)Now the billion dollar question-Do we keep playing the formation?I think its obvious that this will be our standard formation this season so the better question would be do you support this formation.I know many on here arent in favor of the formation and want us to switch back to the 4-3-3.free even said that the formation is outdated.
I humble disgaree.I am thrilled by this formation.Its the Johan Cruyff formation and the Dream Team formation.By playing a 3-4-3 we are paying a tribute to Johan Cruyff and the Dream Team.Its a thrilling formation.I know there are some issues associated with the formation,the most important being the Xavi and Alves issues.There will also be some growing pains while we get acclimatised to the formation.
But with time and patience I am sure the results will come.
So for me personally its Dream Team 2 all the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce on Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:12 pm

Personally i feel 3-4-3 would be the way to go when Alves and Xavi go or decline and have said so before.....

Xavi cant be replaced by Fabregas, Iniesta or Thiago directly because none of them the complete skillsets to replace Xavi directly so i feel a change of formation or tactics would be needed to make up for the loss of Xavi and mentioned 3-4-3 as the ideal one to do so.

Also 3-4-3 would be good as for Alves leaving or declining goes because there is no one and i mean NO ONE that can do what Alves does for Barca so instead of buying an inferior player to replace him directly in a 4-3-3 why not switch to a 3-4-3 where a player like Alves isnt needed.....

So i feel 3-4-3 is the way to go when Xavi and Alves are no longer a vital apart of this team but while they are a vital part i feel its wise to stick to 4-3-3.
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Post by jibers on Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:24 pm

I agree with Mole. I don't think Xavi is irreplacebale though. I feel that bothe fab and thiago have more talent but for me the greatest strength about Xavi is his tactical. Thiago always tries to take on people, although he has stopped doing it as much, and Fab atm I feel is a tactical liability, the guy is great in attack but he just goes everywhere and to play xavi's role requires discipline. The only player that I feel could do a similar job albeit at a lesser level is modric. But as LAex said, what Barca did during the Athletico game should be the way forward imo, swapping formation depending on the phase of the game.
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Post by Khaled on Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:34 pm

@jibers wrote:I agree with Mole. I don't think Xavi is irreplacebale though. I feel that bothe fab and thiago have more talent but for me the greatest strength about Xavi is his tactical. Thiago always tries to take on people, although he has stopped doing it as much, and Fab atm I feel is a tactical liability, the guy is great in attack but he just goes everywhere and to play xavi's role requires discipline. The only player that I feel could do a similar job albeit at a lesser level is modric. But as LAex said, what Barca did during the Athletico game should be the way forward imo, swapping formation depending on the phase of the game.

i don't think Iniesta or Fabregas can play Xavi's role.. But i do think that Thiago can, in 2 or 3 years with more experience.. i think he will..
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Post by PinePHresh on Wed Sep 28, 2011 7:03 pm

Guardiola's ultimate goal is to play a 0-10-0 totaalvoetbal. It's really fascinating how the Barcelona style has evolved.

interesting read and +++rep
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Post by jibers on Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:17 pm

Khaledbarca wrote:
@jibers wrote:I agree with Mole. I don't think Xavi is irreplacebale though. I feel that bothe fab and thiago have more talent but for me the greatest strength about Xavi is his tactical. Thiago always tries to take on people, although he has stopped doing it as much, and Fab atm I feel is a tactical liability, the guy is great in attack but he just goes everywhere and to play xavi's role requires discipline. The only player that I feel could do a similar job albeit at a lesser level is modric. But as LAex said, what Barca did during the Athletico game should be the way forward imo, swapping formation depending on the phase of the game.

i don't think Iniesta or Fabregas can play Xavi's role.. But i do think that Thiago can, in 2 or 3 years with more experience.. i think he will..

Maybe not iniesta, but fab definately, but fab playing xavis role will take away from his gam imo. Thiago can be better than Xavi, he offers more individually but needs to learn to apply it to the teams.
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Post by Omniscient on Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:12 pm

He's only ever used the 3-4-3 effectively against teams playing with 2 strikers up front, I don't think this system is defensively sound enough against a competent team playing 4-2-3-1 like Bayern or Madrid.

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Post by ChollaVille on Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:48 pm

3-4-3 with alves in backline is like 2-5-3
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Post by eelir on Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:52 am

@alexjanosik wrote:By now its obvious that the 3-4-3 was not just a passing fancy and that its here to stay.The players have spoken about it Messi included.
We dont have a thread on it in our section.The formation has been discussed in various threads but not in a dedicated thread.
So this is the 3-4-3 thread.
...
...


Just for the record: https://goallegacy.forumotion.com/t2807-change-formation-3-4-3
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Post by The Sanchez on Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:21 am

First time he used the tactic was in the Champions League last season and had people from the B team playing. They didn't play it again until now and I think that it will be a permanant formation for some time though I hope it doesn't. Alves cannot play as a winger. Either get rid of him or train him as a winger! 4-3-3 is a much better tactic. I just hope that Pep is experimenting!
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Post by free_cat on Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:36 am

Very good analysys Alex. As you say, we have 2 big "specific" problems with 343: Alves and Xavi's positions.

But 343 has other problems that are not specific to our squad, but are general, and that's why I deemed it outdated.

Currently, the most used tactical setup is a 4231, where you can crowd the midfield and counterattack fast with 3 AM and a striker.
343 is not suited to tackle a 4231 because if we lose the ball in midfield (either Xavi, or more likely Thiago or Iniesta on the left), the opposition attacks fast with 4 players vs. 3 defenders + a DM. Even if Xavi or Thiago/Iniesta come back quickly, they won't be as fast as the counterattacking AM, for the simple reason that they have to turn and accelerate. With good movement they will easily find a 2 vs. 1, or at least very dangerous 1 vs. 1 situations all over the pitch.

There is a solution to this problem: not to lose balls. That is easily said, but not done, and if they press us a bit, even us, are likely to give 1-2 very dangerous balls every game. That's what happened vs. Valencia first half 3 times, and it also happened vs. Atletico Madrid once (then Pep quickly changed to a 433).

This s situation can happen not only from a turnover, but also if the opposition team builds from the back and surpasses our pressure line, they can easily find themselves in the situation described and no way Pedro or the RM and LM will have time to trackback if they were applying pressure.

With a 433, if you lose the ball, there's still a 4+1 situation vs. usually 4 forwards. We have even lost very dangerous balls vs. Madrid in the 433 and could cope with the counterattack. In general, 343 just can cope vs. fast transitions as 3 at the back is not enough to cover the whole width of the pitch without leaving very dangerous holes.

343 has other problems: in attack, it's main problem is that there isn't much overlapping in the wings. We don't play with crosses, but the FB overlapping can be very surprising (Alves) or give a stretchin and passing option (Abidal).

Having said all this, I'm not completely against 343. It can be usefull at home, vs. weak teams, vs. teams that play a lot through the middle, or teams that play very slow. But I think it shouldn't be by any means our standard formation and never vs. a big team or even vs. a normal team away. Thank god it seems Pep thinks the same as he played the 433 again vs. BAte.
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Post by free_cat on Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:45 am

Oh, and Dream Team played 343 most of the times, but they were famous for being a reckless team who conceeded a lot of goals, and scored a lot. While I loved the 4-3 goal fests that the Dream team usually gave us, I'm all in favour of Barça winning.

So if we acknoweledge that the Dream Team never reached the consistency levels of this Pep team, we shouldn't try to emulate it at all. The opposite: we should try to continue Pep's path which is approaching the game in a complete way, paying attention to all details, and specifically having a much more strong defensive team, while at the same time being an attacking machine.
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Post by alexjanosik on Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:32 pm

Immaculate_Mole wrote:Personally i feel 3-4-3 would be the way to go when Alves and Xavi go or decline and have said so before.....

Xavi cant be replaced by Fabregas, Iniesta or Thiago directly because none of them the complete skillsets to replace Xavi directly so i feel a change of formation or tactics would be needed to make up for the loss of Xavi and mentioned 3-4-3 as the ideal one to do so.

Also 3-4-3 would be good as for Alves leaving or declining goes because there is no one and i mean NO ONE that can do what Alves does for Barca so instead of buying an inferior player to replace him directly in a 4-3-3 why not switch to a 3-4-3 where a player like Alves isnt needed.....

So i feel 3-4-3 is the way to go when Xavi and Alves are no longer a vital apart of this team but while they are a vital part i feel its wise to stick to 4-3-3.

Interesting and I agree in part.I also feel that once Xavi retires theres no one who can replace him directly.Fab just isnt as good.So once he leaves we will lose our usual mesmeric control of the midfield.A change of tactics will be necessary to compensate.
Same with Alves.He is irreplaceable.So a change of tactics will be needed and 3-4-3 seems the ideal bet.
But my question is what about now?
I want the 3-4-3 to work and i want Xavi to maintain his normal influence,I want Alves to be just as influential and I want defensive stability.
Any ideas man.I am stumped.

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Post by ChollaVille on Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:41 pm

Guardiola used it first time against Shakhtar in 2009.
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Post by alexjanosik on Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:42 pm

@free_cat wrote:Very good analysys Alex. As you say, we have 2 big "specific" problems with 343: Alves and Xavi's positions.

But 343 has other problems that are not specific to our squad, but are general, and that's why I deemed it outdated.

Currently, the most used tactical setup is a 4231, where you can crowd the midfield and counterattack fast with 3 AM and a striker.
343 is not suited to tackle a 4231 because if we lose the ball in midfield (either Xavi, or more likely Thiago or Iniesta on the left), the opposition attacks fast with 4 players vs. 3 defenders + a DM. Even if Xavi or Thiago/Iniesta come back quickly, they won't be as fast as the counterattacking AM, for the simple reason that they have to turn and accelerate. With good movement they will easily find a 2 vs. 1, or at least very dangerous 1 vs. 1 situations all over the pitch.

There is a solution to this problem: not to lose balls. That is easily said, but not done, and if they press us a bit, even us, are likely to give 1-2 very dangerous balls every game. That's what happened vs. Valencia first half 3 times, and it also happened vs. Atletico Madrid once (then Pep quickly changed to a 433).

This s situation can happen not only from a turnover, but also if the opposition team builds from the back and surpasses our pressure line, they can easily find themselves in the situation described and no way Pedro or the RM and LM will have time to trackback if they were applying pressure.

With a 433, if you lose the ball, there's still a 4+1 situation vs. usually 4 forwards. We have even lost very dangerous balls vs. Madrid in the 433 and could cope with the counterattack. In general, 343 just can cope vs. fast transitions as 3 at the back is not enough to cover the whole width of the pitch without leaving very dangerous holes.

343 has other problems: in attack, it's main problem is that there isn't much overlapping in the wings. We don't play with crosses, but the FB overlapping can be very surprising (Alves) or give a stretchin and passing option (Abidal).

Having said all this, I'm not completely against 343. It can be usefull at home, vs. weak teams, vs. teams that play a lot through the middle, or teams that play very slow. But I think it shouldn't be by any means our standard formation and never vs. a big team or even vs. a normal team away. Thank god it seems Pep thinks the same as he played the 433 again vs. BAte.

Some very good points you raised there but I still dont think 3-4-3 is outdated.
You raise some very good points about the predominant formation being 4-2-3-1 nowadays and how a counter would leave us outnumbered at the back.
I can counter with a few points.
If our midfielders maintain positional discipline I dont think there should be too much problem.
As I have already stated we have played a skewed diamond whenever we have played 3-4-3.By skewed I mean Thiago close to the left touchline and Xavi moving closer to the center of the pitch,thereby leaving that flank completely exposed.Which is why all the attacks came down the right flank and we looked exposed.By contrast in the games which we have played 3-4-3 I cant remember many times(if at all) us getting exposed down the left.Thats because we had cover down that side.So midfield discipline is required and I am sure we will be defensively safe.
Second point is regarding the 4-2-3-1.If we line up in a 3-4-3 how many sides will have the guts to leave 4 up top.Leaving 4 up top will mean 6(our players) against 6 in their half and thats almost game over.Not many teams(if at all,unless ofcourse u are Valencia) will do it.I know Stoke and the Special Five most certainly wont.

I know the Dream Team was not as defensively stable as the current team but man they were breathtaking.Man for man our players are better barring a couple of exceptions.We are the only team capable of pulling it off in the modern game so why not give it a shot?

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Post by free_cat on Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:52 am

@alexjanosik wrote:

If our midfielders maintain positional discipline I dont think there should be too much problem.
As I have already stated we have played a skewed diamond whenever we have played 3-4-3.By skewed I mean Thiago close to the left touchline and Xavi moving closer to the center of the pitch,thereby leaving that flank completely exposed.Which is why all the attacks came down the right flank and we looked exposed.By contrast in the games which we have played 3-4-3 I cant remember many times(if at all) us getting exposed down the left.Thats because we had cover down that side.So midfield discipline is required and I am sure we will be defensively safe.

Second point is regarding the 4-2-3-1.If we line up in a 3-4-3 how many sides will have the guts to leave 4 up top.Leaving 4 up top will mean 6(our players) against 6 in their half and thats almost game over.Not many teams(if at all,unless ofcourse u are Valencia) will do it.I know Stoke and the Special Five most certainly wont.

Even if the RM and LM maintain discipline, they can't cope with a counterattack when they lose the ball. Imagine Thiago loses the ball in the left flank, then automatically the guy who stole it will be further down the pitch than Thiago, and all 3 AM will run forward, while the RM has to turn and accelarate (plus, Xavi is quite slow). Most likely we end up in a 4 vs 3+1 situation. Also, our team is used to pressing, and pressing by nature means less tactical discipline. If they break your pressing...

On the second point, as explained, they don't need, and they won't, leave 4 guys up top. They will compact the midfield into 5 players, 2 DM and 3 attacking midfielders, and when they get the ball they will pump forward.
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Post by windkick on Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:29 am

Honestly I dont like it too much. It makes me nervous and puts players in positions they shouldnt be in or out of the starting 11 all together.

It makes me nervous cause (as seen vs Valencia), we can be exposed in a already shaking defense we have. Our defense has always been (if thats what it can be called) our weakness. So why get rid of a defender to add a midfielder when our midfield doesnt require any fine tuning. I feel this was done just to give Fab some playing time and if thats really the case then I really dont like it since our formation of 4-3-3 was working just fine.

Xavi on the right is also usless imo cause he will not be used to his strengths. he will have to protect the right flank when his strength is to play up the middle and control the game going forward and creating chances. So why move him to the right when he will have allot more defensive responsibility?

Alves. With this new formation he sort of gets either pushed out or moved to the mid field (where he isnt needed and eventually through out the game will move to his natural RB position anyways) or used as an attacker (again, where he isnt needed since we have attackers already and he is best used as a defender, where we are the weakest)

I feel if we have injuries to Pique and Puyol, why not give Fontas some minutes? Has this guy played at all this season in any match? He will never improve unless he gets some time. Mascherano has served great as a CB but Busi is too slow for that role and needs to not be back there (check the Milan match). I'd rather keep the 4-3-3 and Fontas pair up with Puyol till Pique is back to full strength and Busi start at DM and Mascherano come on as a sub to shut the game down late. Keita would then not play as a DM as much as he has (seriously, this guy is a liability now, Real Madrid completley worked him. Only Busi and Mascherano should be our DMs). Since our midfield is so stacked, with every one healthy Keita shouldnt be playing at all anymore imo with Thiago getting his minutes. Instead of playing with one less defender Id rather we keep molding Fontas in to a eventual starter with Puyol getting older instead of using Busi and Masch as a defender, benching Alves, and using Keita as the DM sub while using Xavi on the right.

Also lets not forget we can use Alves-Puyol-Abidal-Adriano with Fontas as the defending sub and Busi start at DM and Masch as his sub. That's perfect imo till Pique is back to full strength. I dont see why we have a injury to the back line and we start to use one less defender when we have many variations we can still use to make up for the injury. Especially when our midfield doesnt need any help, or back line does. So why make our backline weaker and move our midfielders out of position? Again, I honestly think this was just done to make sure Fab got some playing time, which I pray I am wrong

Just my 2 cents, but I feel the more we use that formation against big teams we will eventually start to lose. I feel we should only use the 3-4-3 when Xavi, Aves or Puyol are gone and only then would I see a reason to use it. Or only use it in league games vs mid to low level La Liga teams cause they wont have the fire power to expose our back line like the big teams would. In the mean time we still have the personal to use the 4-3-3 to its full effect
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Post by The Franchise on Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:04 pm

Like all systems and tactics, it is all relative to the situation, your players and the opponants.

I think there are times it can be used and times where the level of danger increases.

What I didnt understand is, why didnt Pep use it against Milan? Of all the teams it could of been used against, they were the most well suited for our point of view.

Then, against Valencia it was used when actually, it was more dangerous.

I didnt get that.

Overall, I like it, I also think it mens fitting in players who need to play which is a plus.

The problems vs a 4231 have been talked about, here is my take some a bit of it.

Notice how our back 3 arent the normal back 3 this system is known for.

They are guys who have fullback ability, Dani Alves, Mascherano, Abidal.

They could act as fullbacks defensively and offensively, but in normal sense, not our fullbacks in a 433 who are very advanced.

So, lets for example pit us against Valencia for the sake of argument, who like to play on the counter this season and play the 4231.

Soldado would be picked up by Pique. Mathui would be picked up by Alves(in spite of him having a history of playing bad vs the Frenchmen) and Abidal against Pablo.

Busquets on Canales.

Xavi, Iniesta on Ever and Topal.

Now this isnt basketball where you pick a man to mark and follow him around.

However, when we are pressing, the tightness of our marking in deep positions isnt too different because the opponant cant move freely around the width and depth of the pitch because they must provide passing routes for their teammates who are struggling to get out.

So, with every player with a man picked up, all in their natural defensive areas it leaves us with the front 3 to press the back 4 and we all surely notice that in our pressing there is a midfielder who comes out to apply pressure to the first pass. This would be Cesc or Thiago, whoever is playing.

Now, we dont have the numerical superority of 2 v 1 in the back which we usually have when pressing in the 433. However, if the question is, what are you supposed to do against a 4231 using this system that is the only answer if your a possession, pressing team.

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Post by BarcaKizz on Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:31 pm

I agree with what Dani is saying about 'there is a time and place' for it to be used. I think it can be excellent sometimes, but otherwise I don't like it.

I think its main advantage is that it weights the formation towards the area we are strongest- midfield. This means its effective as a rotation formation and I think if we rotate and rest Alves, this is a great option. It simply means more games for Cesc and Thiago.

Thing is.. I'd like to see it used mainly as a formation for rotation. Big games, I still prefer 4-3-3 and we play our best football that way. My reasons for this I deem to be quite major.

Firstly, as mentioned, and I had picked this up a while ago, it reduces the impact of 2 of our 4 most important players: Xavi and Alves. Xavi doesn't really fit this formation perfectly. In a 4-3-3 he is the engine, he is pivotal to the team. In the 3-4-3 he's relegated to just another player on the pitch really. In fact... he's not even really suited to the side positions at all...

Alves can play on the wing up front, or in the midfield, or at the back, but in all positions he's nowhere nearly as effective. He's tailor made for the fullback role at Barca, and is most effective running from deep. Last year showed just how important that outlet is that he gives us and he's so direct. Very important player.

This leads me to my final criticism. I think it encourages the 'bus' more in some ways. We just have an overload of midfielders and we play a lot less direct in my opinion. So far we've scored predominantly through Fab and Messi in this formation, with wonderful throughballs. However, you can't rely on this all year. I can see it being a bit toothless at times. There isn't a lot of the traditional pulling the team side to side to open space. We aren't really stretching the defence , we're relying a lot on individual brilliance.

I guess my final question would be, if in 2009 Pep switched to 4-2-3-1, in 2010 Pep switched to 'false 9', will he now be switching to this? In my opinion the false 9 was perfect... he doesn't have to change the formation. As I've mentioned before, there are other ways to improve and change, not just formation change.
----

Did we play 3-4-3 against Sporting? Only caught the end, which appeared to be a 4-3-3.
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Post by windkick on Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:19 pm

Agreed. There is a time and a place for it, and as I said earlier I was blown away and nervous the second I saw we would use it against Valencia and I hope we dont try to use it against R. Madrid on a regular basis
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Post by alexjanosik on Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:14 pm

There was a game against Valencia last season(Mestalla) where I found it tactically brilliant to watch.This one is right up there for tactics.Simply fascinating match to watch from a tactical standpoint.

I had said in my opening post that Pep wouldnt give up the 3-4-3 and that this would pretty much be out standard formation this season.The Sporting game is further proof of that.

However I had raised 2 main problems.Keeping Xavi and Alves influence the same while maintaining defensive discipline.
Well Pep seems to have solved one of them.

The first 5 min of the game I was wondering why Busquets our DM was playing very high up the pitch.He took part in numerous attacks.It was only a while later that I realized Busquets was not playing DM but CM!!
We were playing with 2 CM's in the middle of the park in Xavi and Busquets.
So instead of the diamond midfield Pep has employed in the previous games he went for a flat midfield this time.This way Xavi stays in the middle of the park and exerts his normal influence.
Thiago played wide left almost as a left winger.
But that was not the end.Pedro was playing false nine!!!!
And not Messi.I was confused to see Pedro play through the midddle.Then I saw Messi on the right and realized that Messi was playing wide right with a free role.
And he played mostly from the right(instead of through the centre where he has been playying for more than a year).
So Messi was playing wide right with a license to roam.
Now this solved another little problem.The problem of defensive stability down that right wing we had against Valencia(when we played a normal diamond and Xavi would continuously tuck in leaving that wing exposed).
By playing Messi wide right,it ensured that Sporting never dared push their LB up the pitch(as Valencia did against us).
Pushing the LB up the pitch to attack would have been suicide from Sporting.
So the LB stayed right back and even the winger stayed back.
So the system was defensively stable.Thiago has been putting in a great defensive shift in the games(which has been overlooked because of hhis attacking prowess) and he did so against Sporting too.
So with Thiago playing wide left,that flank was secured and the threat of Messi ensured the right flank was secure.

Brilliant tactics from Pep.But the Alves problem still remains.Also the flat midfield could be rotated with the diamond midfield depending on the opponent.It will be interesting to see what variation he comes up with next.

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Post by BarcaKizz on Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:52 pm

@alexjanosik wrote:There was a game against Valencia last season(Mestalla) where I found it tactically brilliant to watch.This one is right up there for tactics.Simply fascinating match to watch from a tactical standpoint.

I had said in my opening post that Pep wouldnt give up the 3-4-3 and that this would pretty much be out standard formation this season.The Sporting game is further proof of that.

However I had raised 2 main problems.Keeping Xavi and Alves influence the same while maintaining defensive discipline.
Well Pep seems to have solved one of them.

The first 5 min of the game I was wondering why Busquets our DM was playing very high up the pitch.He took part in numerous attacks.It was only a while later that I realized Busquets was not playing DM but CM!!
We were playing with 2 CM's in the middle of the park in Xavi and Busquets.
So instead of the diamond midfield Pep has employed in the previous games he went for a flat midfield this time.This way Xavi stays in the middle of the park and exerts his normal influence.
Thiago played wide left almost as a left winger.
But that was not the end.Pedro was playing false nine!!!!
And not Messi.I was confused to see Pedro play through the midddle.Then I saw Messi on the right and realized that Messi was playing wide right with a free role.
And he played mostly from the right(instead of through the centre where he has been playying for more than a year).
So Messi was playing wide right with a license to roam.
Now this solved another little problem.The problem of defensive stability down that right wing we had against Valencia(when we played a normal diamond and Xavi would continuously tuck in leaving that wing exposed).
By playing Messi wide right,it ensured that Sporting never dared push their LB up the pitch(as Valencia did against us).
Pushing the LB up the pitch to attack would have been suicide from Sporting.
So the LB stayed right back and even the winger stayed back.
So the system was defensively stable.Thiago has been putting in a great defensive shift in the games(which has been overlooked because of hhis attacking prowess) and he did so against Sporting too.
So with Thiago playing wide left,that flank was secured and the threat of Messi ensured the right flank was secure.

Brilliant tactics from Pep.But the Alves problem still remains.Also the flat midfield could be rotated with the diamond midfield depending on the opponent.It will be interesting to see what variation he comes up with next.

errmmm as well as you've explained all that, I don't like the sound of any of it. Sounds absolutely horrible to me... Wouldn't ever want to see what you just described. No wonder it was a horribly boring 1-0. 4-3-3 please and win 5-0.
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Post by free_cat on Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:28 pm

@alexjanosik wrote:There was a game against Valencia last season(Mestalla) where I found it tactically brilliant to watch.This one is right up there for tactics.Simply fascinating match to watch from a tactical standpoint.

I had said in my opening post that Pep wouldnt give up the 3-4-3 and that this would pretty much be out standard formation this season.The Sporting game is further proof of that.

However I had raised 2 main problems.Keeping Xavi and Alves influence the same while maintaining defensive discipline.
Well Pep seems to have solved one of them.

The first 5 min of the game I was wondering why Busquets our DM was playing very high up the pitch.He took part in numerous attacks.It was only a while later that I realized Busquets was not playing DM but CM!!
We were playing with 2 CM's in the middle of the park in Xavi and Busquets.
So instead of the diamond midfield Pep has employed in the previous games he went for a flat midfield this time.This way Xavi stays in the middle of the park and exerts his normal influence.
Thiago played wide left almost as a left winger.
But that was not the end.Pedro was playing false nine!!!!
And not Messi.I was confused to see Pedro play through the midddle.Then I saw Messi on the right and realized that Messi was playing wide right with a free role.
And he played mostly from the right(instead of through the centre where he has been playying for more than a year).
So Messi was playing wide right with a license to roam.
Now this solved another little problem.The problem of defensive stability down that right wing we had against Valencia(when we played a normal diamond and Xavi would continuously tuck in leaving that wing exposed).
By playing Messi wide right,it ensured that Sporting never dared push their LB up the pitch(as Valencia did against us).
Pushing the LB up the pitch to attack would have been suicide from Sporting.
So the LB stayed right back and even the winger stayed back.
So the system was defensively stable.Thiago has been putting in a great defensive shift in the games(which has been overlooked because of hhis attacking prowess) and he did so against Sporting too.
So with Thiago playing wide left,that flank was secured and the threat of Messi ensured the right flank was secure.

Brilliant tactics from Pep.But the Alves problem still remains.Also the flat midfield could be rotated with the diamond midfield depending on the opponent.It will be interesting to see what variation he comes up with next.

MMmm, I don't quite agree.
Yes, I think we were playing a flat 3 in midfield with Thiago on the left, Busquets as CM, and Xavi on the right (but in the end coming a lot to the middle)
But Messi was definitely not playing as RW, that was Adriano who stayed out wide all the game, including the goal. Messi was playing as AM and Pedro as fake nine, interchanging a lot. I dislike Messi as AM, it doesn't work as much as a 9. Messi, closer to the goal, the better, as proven by Argentina IMO.
All in all, a bit unbalanced setup and that it didn't quite work. We were solid defensively, but Sporting barely attacked because losing 0-1 was ok to them.
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Post by alexjanosik on Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:30 pm

@free_cat wrote:
@alexjanosik wrote:There was a game against Valencia last season(Mestalla) where I found it tactically brilliant to watch.This one is right up there for tactics.Simply fascinating match to watch from a tactical standpoint.

I had said in my opening post that Pep wouldnt give up the 3-4-3 and that this would pretty much be out standard formation this season.The Sporting game is further proof of that.

However I had raised 2 main problems.Keeping Xavi and Alves influence the same while maintaining defensive discipline.
Well Pep seems to have solved one of them.

The first 5 min of the game I was wondering why Busquets our DM was playing very high up the pitch.He took part in numerous attacks.It was only a while later that I realized Busquets was not playing DM but CM!!
We were playing with 2 CM's in the middle of the park in Xavi and Busquets.
So instead of the diamond midfield Pep has employed in the previous games he went for a flat midfield this time.This way Xavi stays in the middle of the park and exerts his normal influence.
Thiago played wide left almost as a left winger.
But that was not the end.Pedro was playing false nine!!!!
And not Messi.I was confused to see Pedro play through the midddle.Then I saw Messi on the right and realized that Messi was playing wide right with a free role.
And he played mostly from the right(instead of through the centre where he has been playying for more than a year).
So Messi was playing wide right with a license to roam.
Now this solved another little problem.The problem of defensive stability down that right wing we had against Valencia(when we played a normal diamond and Xavi would continuously tuck in leaving that wing exposed).
By playing Messi wide right,it ensured that Sporting never dared push their LB up the pitch(as Valencia did against us).
Pushing the LB up the pitch to attack would have been suicide from Sporting.
So the LB stayed right back and even the winger stayed back.
So the system was defensively stable.Thiago has been putting in a great defensive shift in the games(which has been overlooked because of hhis attacking prowess) and he did so against Sporting too.
So with Thiago playing wide left,that flank was secured and the threat of Messi ensured the right flank was secure.

Brilliant tactics from Pep.But the Alves problem still remains.Also the flat midfield could be rotated with the diamond midfield depending on the opponent.It will be interesting to see what variation he comes up with next.

MMmm, I don't quite agree.
Yes, I think we were playing a flat 3 in midfield with Thiago on the left, Busquets as CM, and Xavi on the right (but in the end coming a lot to the middle)
But Messi was definitely not playing as RW, that was Adriano who stayed out wide all the game, including the goal. Messi was playing as AM and Pedro as fake nine, interchanging a lot. I dislike Messi as AM, it doesn't work as much as a 9. Messi, closer to the goal, the better, as proven by Argentina IMO.
All in all, a bit unbalanced setup and that it didn't quite work. We were solid defensively, but Sporting barely attacked because losing 0-1 was ok to them.

So we agree that it was a flat midfield and that Pedro was false nine.
If you watch the match again,i think you will see that Messi did play wide right with a free role.
Ofcourse Adriano played right ahead of Messi but numerous times Messi was found on the right receiving balls from Alves and Xavi.
That rarely happens nowadays as Messi always receives the ball in the center.
But in this game he received a lot of balls on the right touchline which tells me that he played wide right with a license to roam.

I dont quite agree that it was unbalanced.I think we created enough to win by 2,3 goals against a very organized Sporting set up.Plus we were solid defensively.

I thought it was a great tactic.Just another way to play the 3-4-3(which whether we like it or not is our formation for the season).
Brings variety and depending on the opposition we can either play a diamond midfield or a flat one.

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Post by alexjanosik on Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:38 pm

Also I dont get why you say Messi as AM doesnt work.
When practically this whole season he has played as a 10.
I know he lines up as a 9 but thats not what he has played.He has not even been false 9.He has been a 10 and he has been brilliant at it.
Just as he is for Argentina playing as a 10 but doesnt have the personnel around him to compliment.

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