Tactical Review: What We’ve Learned This Past Week

In the past seven days, a lot has happened. Exactly a week ago, Luis Enrique found himself licking a few early-season wounds from the loss to Deportivo Alavés. Eyebrows were raised as to whether Lucho had made the right decision in resting so many key players that weekend. A few weeks into the season, we can now start analyzing the intentions of most managers. On the surface level, anyone with a seasoned culé eye would have been able to see Lucho’s clear intention of rotating his players to utilize the benefits of economies of squad– That being that this time around, Lucho has arguably the best and most versatile squad in Europe. Why? Because one of the biggest reasons (in fact, to many blaugrana’s, the only reason) why our team fell apart in it’s only blemish last season in the loss to Atlético Madrid in the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final, was down to fatigue. It only makes sense to rotate as much as possible, even to a fault (such as what was witnessed in the Alavés game), if it ensures that MSN and co are fully fit come April 2017. Other than this, Lucho has pulled a few rabbit’s out of the hat too.

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Player Ratings: CD Leganés vs. FC Barcelona

Luis Enrique experiments with the team’s formation and sees his Barcelona overcome Leganés five to one. Lionel Messi scored a brace and had an assist while Luis Suárez had a brace of assists and scored a goal. 3-4-3 stood in and stood up for the squad’s usual 4-3-3.

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The Barça B Roundup: Reserves return to winning ways

If there’s something that characterises this year’s Barcelona B, then that must be the team’s incredibly strong fighting spirit. In the five matches they have played so far, Gerard López’s men have won four times, and for three of these wins, they had to wait until the final ten minutes to score the winning goal. It was no different this weekend. Against Atlético Baleares, a team that came to the Miniestadi for Saturday’s match while on a four-game unbeaten run, the reserves left it late to seal the three points that rubber stamped their return to the top of the table after last week’s defeat saw them drop from the top.

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Review: Back to normal

After Barça’s loss to Alavés on the weekend, it’s for sure that many British pundits saw Tuesday’s game as a massive chance for Celtic to come away from the Camp Nou with something. But taking all of the rotations into account, not to mention the substandard performance of many players against the Liga newcomers, it was clear to Barça fans that Saturday’s game was a mere blip from players and coach, and that a full strength team could easily brush aside Celtic. And they did.

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Player Ratings: FC Barcelona vs. Celtic F.C.

FC Barcelona opens group play of the Champions League with a seven to nil mauling of Celtic F.C. Celtic never looked to be in the match as Barcelona scored early and often, with Lionel Messi starting things off with an impossible goal in the third minute. Marc-André ter Stegen stopped a penalty in the 24th minute that ended Celtic’s best scoring opportunity.

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Is Lucho Still Living in Pep’s Shadow?

Two seasons into Luis Enrique’s tenure, can we say that he has successfully managed to break out of Pep Guardiola’s shadow? Let’s compare the record of both managers, entering their third season as FC Barcelona manager.

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The Barça B Roundup: Heroic reserves slip at Alcoy

Good things can’t last forever. Barcelona B’s winning run in the Spanish third tier came to an end on Sunday at El Collao, against a combative Alcoyano side that will certainly rival the Blaugranas for promotion. Gerard López did say last week that the match against Alcoyano would be war; the coach was proved right as the game was intensely contested and, above all, contained lots of controversy. The Blaugranas almost completed a miraculous comeback after coming back from 2-0 down, but this time round, they were defeated in the same way that the won last week, thanks to a late goal scored by the hosts.

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Player Ratings: FC Barcelona vs. Deportivo Alavés

Round three of La Liga sees Barcelona lose a tough three points at home to Alavés. The club was first undone with a simple cross to Deyverson that resulted in a goal, but minutes later equalized on a Jérémy Mathieu header from a Neymar corner. The contest was decided in the 64th minute after a bad clearance by Javier Mascherano that led to a goal from Ibai Gómez. Luis Enrique made seven changes to the team that started the previous match against Athletic Club before the international break. Even after the introductions of Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta, and Luis Suárez the club were unable to equalize.

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Atletico can make us better

“Good artists create. Great artists steal”

And so the age-old saying goes. Two paradoxes exist between Los Colchoneros and La Blaugrana, and they are not just found in the cultural authenticity of Catalonia in contrast with the fast lane of the capital, Madrid. The first paradox is found where one team currently finds itself; at the pinnacle of world football and excellence, and where the other aspires to find itself. The second paradox is found in the manner in which excellence is achieved: art, grit inventiveness, toughness.

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The Barça B Roundup: Reserves top after blockbuster win

During the international break, attention usually swings away from club football. For Barcelona B though, the weekend was not the time for switching off. Gerard López and his charges hosted Villarreal B, one of the promotion contenders this weekend, in a match the coach conceded last week would be one of the toughest for the team in the first round of the league season. The Blaugranas though, riding the wave of positivity that has been carrying them for the past two weeks, managed to sink the Yellow Submarine and take a win that installed them as the sole league leaders. To get there though, the reserves had to suffer.

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