3 key points for Barcelona to succeed against Villarreal
1. Keep the midfield compact
Luis Enrique has used his midfielders as pseudo-wingers for a majority of this season. With both central midfielders drifting wide, the onus falls on Sergio Busquets to play the role of a one-man midfield, which incapacitates even the greatest defensive midfielder on the planet. The games against Real Madrid, Osasuna and Espanyol however, saw a monumental difference in midfield structure, as Barça has gradually reverted to a three-man flat midfield, and that trend needs to continue. Lucho has finally gotten his midfield right, and I don’t want him to change it one bit.
2. Play Samuel Umtiti
Now this might seem pretty obvious, looking at the form that Samuel Umtiti is in, but sitting out a starter like Javier Mascherano for two big games in a row is something I don’t see in the realm of probability. The Argentine defender has been a mainstay in the back-line for much of his Barça career, but has regressed rather quickly this season. Against the Yellow Submarine’s fast-paced counter-attacks, Barcelona need Samuel Umtiti and his speed to keep Bakambu in check, and the decision of who partners Gerard Pique in defence could hold the key to a clean sheet. It is possible that Lucho opts for a three-man back-line and uses all of his best defenders, but his insistence on reverting to the 4-3-3 in the previous fixtures makes me feel like a more traditional four-man defence is incoming.
3. Let Andre Gomes gain momentum and finish 90 minutes
Andre Gomes has been a man whose form has been mercurial to say the least. While there are times when he seems like a deer caught in the headlights, there are games when he looks absolutely world-class. Many questioned the Portuguese’s positive performance against the relegated Osasuna, but his outing against a well-drilled Espanyol put some of the doubters to rest.
The former Valencia midfielder turned up the style in the Catalan derby as he attempted his fair share of risky passes, in spite of providing control in the middle of the park; his defensive contribution wasn’t slacking either. It would be for the best should Lucho choose to play the lanky midfielder for the entire 90 minutes, and let him continue regaining some of his lost confidence against another big team.
Would you agree with those points? What will be your suggestions?