FC Barcelona 3-0 Real Madrid | Tactical Analysis

Let’s analyze the match between Barcelona and Real Madrid that Xavi’s men won with the box midfield (Oriol Romeu, De Jong, Pedri and Gundogan), after a poor display against Arsenal with 3 midfielders. Real Madrid with a high press and Barcelona in the usual structure with deep centre-backs and the double pivot in the edge of the box. The difference with the previous game is that Gundogan or Pedri drop to receive, staying the other player between the lines behind Real Madrid’s press. This means that Barcelona finds a free player with long balls having time to control and continue the play.

We can see it here, Lewandowski drops to receive and Gundogan reads that a center-back jumps out of position, leaving a weakness in the defensive line, so he attacks the space.

Here same idea but higher. The box midfield generating superiority, a lot of mobility from Lewandowski and good movements of the ball by Pedri or Gundogan.

The other 2 weaknesses of Real Madrid in defense are: Ferland Mendy with a poor game against Dembele, both in one-on-one duels and in transitions, not arriving in time to defend. The other problem is the edge of the box unprotected, especially in crosses.

These 3 weaknesses cause Barcelona’s goal. Set piece, Pedri receives unmarked on the edge of the box and Dembele attacks the space behind the defense in his best zone to score with a powerful shot. Courtois is well positioned but his reaction is slow. 

After the goal, Real Madrid has more possession. Barcelona in a mid block with Lewandowski pressing the center-back and Gundogan-Pedri covering Tchouameni-Camavinga.

One of Real Madrid’s main threats are long balls, dragging defenders out of position. Here a center-back Christensen, jumps with Valverde, being a responsability of De Jong, and with Balde jumping on Carvajal, leaving plenty of space for Real Madrid players, creating several scoring chances.

As a consequence of this threat, Barcelona switches from a mid to a low block in the last 15 minutes of the first half. It’s in this phase of the game where the problems of Ancelotti’s diamond become clear. Many players in the same area, few movements off the ball and a lack of players inside the box to finish plays. Real Madrid’s chances come with crosses trying to get players into the box like Bellingham to win the aerial duels or with Barcelona defending the box poorly. 

The second half starts with Barcelona having possession, Sergi Roberto replaces Gundogan, but with less dominance than at the start of the game and Real Madrid again with several scoring chances, as in this cross with Vinicius unmarked in the box.

Kroos and Modric enter to play the last half hour. Even more possession for Real Madrid, but the German’s level in this preseason is far from the required rhythm and it shows in the play of the second goal. Poor first touch, tries to pass under pressure losing the ball and Fermín López scores with a good shot from outside the box.

With Joselu on the pitch, Real Madrid continues to miss big chances, being their main problem if they don’t sign Mbappe or an elite striker. They will generate many shots but effectiveness is key.

And in added time the third goal, good carry by Fermín López to complete a great performance and Ferrán Torres attacks space.

 It’s clear that Barcelona needs to play with 4 midfielders, suffering against teams like Real Madrid when they don’t have possession, while Ancelotti’s men, regardless of the system used, need a striker if they don’t want to repeat games like this throughout the season.

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