Gündoğan & Xavi’s Tactical Evolution | FC Barcelona Analysis

Barcelona’s tactical evolution since Xavi’s arrival has been marked firstly by placing the attacking midfielders higher, appearing between the lines, playing with their back to goal. And then by using 4 midfielders in the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid, becoming the main formation. None of Barcelona’s midfielders stand out playing between the lines or receiving with his back to goal, so that’s the main reason why the signing of İlkay Gündoğan, who is one of the best players in the world in both aspects, is so important, let’s analyse it.

In his early days at Borussia Dortmund, Gündoğan used to play in the first and second phase, a playmaker in the holding role as though he was still a No. 10, taking risks in deep areas. He was a vital ingredient of a Dortmund side that progressed to the Champions League final-where they were beaten by Bayern.

In 2016 he signed for Manchester City, growing into his new role thanks to Guardiola. The German now plays higher than in his time at Dormtund, often having to receive with his back to goal, not being able to play as many progressive passes as in the Bundesliga, fewer touches of the ball and playing under pressure in almost every play.

His intelligence and vision allows him to be excellent between the lines and making the best decision on the first touch to pass or drive into the box.

This new role has allowed him to become a prolific goalscorer with 10 or more goals in each of the last 3 seasons. His mobility on the edge of the box with quick turns to finish, attacking the space and his creativity in the final third make him a player who in every game generates goalscoring chances, something Barcelona need.

I think Xavi will try De Jong as a defensive midfielder in pre-season, with Gündogan and Pedri, keeping Gavi as the fourth midfielder on the left flank. Barcelona need to find a defensive midfielder freeing De Jong from defensive duties, being Barça able to generate superiority with 3 midfielders, having an agressive winger on the left.

We’ll see what role Xavi gives him, but İlkay Gündoğan will undoubtedly be one of the best signings of 2023.

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