When Gerardo “Tata” Martino first took over at FC Barcelona he clearly mentioned that he would not be introducing drastic changes across the board when it came to Barça’s footballing style. However, that didn’t mean that he wouldn’t put his own stamp on how Barça functioned. What excited us most about Tata’s appointment was the introduction of verticality (or verticalidad) to our possession based game, as well as the return of the pressing game, which was sorely missing last season. In order to successfully incorporate these facets, the focus on fitness is paramount.
When it comes to improving fitness, Martino has made it clear that rotations will be the order of the day, and will be universal. Not even the previously untouchable Messi, will be spared, as was evident by his substitution in the 70th minute against Levante.
Martino took note of how the team reached the decisive stages of last season with key players like Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets injured and several others like Xavi fatigued. Consequently Tata and his coaching staff have made some modifications to the training sessions. They will last a little longer and will be more intense. The objective is for the players to gain strength so that performances do not falter in the business end of the season during the months of March, April and May. This will however be dependent on whether the team has a midweek match as the players will need substantial recovery periods after the intensive training sessions.
Another key improvement introduced by Martino and the physical trainer Elvio Paolorroso will be individualized training sessions for players. Once training with the group is completed, individual training sessions will take place to add extra workload to counter weaknesses in the player’s fitness. This will mainly be done for players who clock fewer first team minutes currently, so that they will be physically in top shape when called upon; though, the idea is to have such sessions for all the players over the duration of the season.
Overall, the signs for Martino’s initiatives are positive. He is analyzing Barça’s weaknesses and failings over the last two seasons and is working towards tackling them with his own unique methods.
Source: mundodeportivo.com / Image: Miguel Ruiz FCB