Muricy: “If there are three European matches on I’ll watch the Barcelona one”

Muricy: “If there are three European matches on I’ll watch the Barcelona one”

FIFA spoke to Santos coach Muricy Ramalho ahead of the Club World Cup which will be held in Japan this year. Football enthusiasts are already excited at the prospect of seeing the Brazilian club taking on FC Barcelona in the finals. But Muricy noted that he and his players are not taking the semi-finals lightly at all in which they will face the winners of the clash between Oceanian champions Auckland City and the as yet undecided J League champions. After the jump, read Muricy’s analysis on FC Barcelona’s style and what his players will have to do. You can read the complete interview here.

Everyone’s talking about a potential FIFA Club World Cup final between Santos and Barcelona, but you’ve got a semi-final to play first of all. How have you been approaching that with your players?

“In football you always have to give an example whenever you want to get a message across. It’s not enough just to speak to players. You have to give them an example or they won’t believe in what you’re saying. And the most recent example we’ve got is Internacional last year (Inter lost 2-0 to Congo DR’s TP Mazembe Englebert in the semi-finals at UAE 2010). It goes without saying that people are only asking about Barcelona, but all we know is that we’ve got a very tough opening game, and opening matches are always incredibly stressful.

Barcelona might be the only topic of conversation out there, but I can tell you that the team’s talking about the first game and nothing else. I spoke to the people at Inter, where I’ve coached before and I’ve still got friends, because I wanted to find out what went on. They told me that’s more or less how it was. All the talk was about the final and they forgot about the first game. We can’t have a Brazilian team messing up again.”

Presumably you’ve seen Barcelona a few times already. Have you been watching them more closely since qualifying for Japan 2011?

“I’ve heard a lot of people in Brazil say that when there’s a lot of games on at the same time they’ll watch the Santos match. And it’s the same with Barcelona. If there are three European matches on I’ll watch the Barcelona one. I was doing that even before we qualified, so you can guess who I’m watching now.”

What’s your view of Barcelona’s possession-based game and how do you plan to combat it?

Real Madrid, Valencia and Manchester United have all tried to get more possession of the ball and none of them have managed it. So what you have to do is use your head and tell the players that that’s the opposition’s strong point. If you try and stop it, not only will you fail but you’ll also be unable to play the way you want to play. We need to be patient when we’re not in possession and be able to deal with it. You feel like saying, ‘Come on, let us have the ball for a bit’. We Brazilians don’t like not having the ball, but we’ll just have to wait for the right time to get hold of it and then play our game, which is not a possession game. It’s the exact opposite to what Barcelona do. We play at pace and go straight for goal and we don’t control the play, whereas Barça move the ball around and try and knock the opposition off balance, pull players out of position so that Pedro, [David] Villa and the midfielders can exploit the gaps. And that happens because their opponents lose patience, which is when the spaces start opening up.

If you freeze the screen when Barcelona are playing you never see anyone up front. You only see the opposing centre-halves standing there on their own, and you ask yourself, ‘How the heck is this team going to score?’ Their penetration’s the key, the patience they’ve got when they’re on the ball. Opposition centre-halves start to want to chase the ball and that’s when they move out of position and someone nips in behind them. We have to be aware that when they’re in possession, someone’s going to try and get into space. We need to make sure the spaces are filled in.

Source:; Image credit: AFP