The Purist

The Purist



Barcelona crash out of the #UEL in shocking fashion at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt. But what exactly went wrong? Wrong system? No intensity? A lack of quality? Forget the reactionary takes, here’s a full tactical analysis. ✍️#PuristThread

SAME SHAPE, SAME RESULTS Both teams set up with exactly the same shape as the first leg. Frankfurt cut off Barca’s passing lanes to the midfielders. The ball went back and forth across the defence. Then eventually out to the wingers.

With no route through the middle, Barca looked to attack down the flanks with combinations between Ferran/Gavi and Dembele/Pedri. Frankfurt were ready for this, and created 4 vs 2 advantages in these areas. It was too rigid & predictable from Barca.

I lost count of how many times this happened during the game.

Gavi was sometimes free between the lines when the ball was moved from side to side. But it needed moving quickly, which too often wasn’t the case.

Mostly absent from the game was Aubameyang. After his poor performance in the first leg, there were noticeably fewer balls into his feet from the centre backs. Despite significantly less possession, Frankfurt’s centre forward Borré was much more involved.

With all that said, Barca still managed to create space out wide in the first half. The first clip shows the potential of Auba’s participation, if used more often. Patience would be the key... if it weren’t for Frankfurt’s two goals.

2-0 down, where did it all go wrong? There’s a strange duality to Barca’s defending. In controlled situations, the team understands what to do. Ball lost on the flank? No problem, there’s a shape in place to deal with it, with Alba remaining behind the ball and Busquets close.

It’s when things get chaotic that Barca struggle. Long balls, 1v1 duels, throw ins etc. The problem is that Barca’s defensive structure /encourages/ chaos. The team presses high, man marking, with big gaps between players. No compactness or shape. The opponents are forced long.

In other words, Barca exacerbate their own biggest weakness. Players that need protection from 1 vs 1, like Busquets, Garcia, and Dest are exposed. This clip is the prime example. By defending like this, Barca are the architects of their own demise.

Another issue yet to be addressed is defensive transitions from opposition corners. All season, opponents have broken quickly and Barca are lethargic in response. It could’ve cost Xavi’s team twice in the first 40 minutes.

Massive credit to Frankfurt. It wasn’t just a better game plan. They executed it with more belief, more intensity and (shockingly) more quality. Borré, Kamada and Kostic were sensational all game.

At 3-0 down, Barca went to a back 3. It has merit against Frankfurt’s system, able to pin the wingbacks and find space between the lines. But it happened too late for us to analyse it. The game had become a frenzy.

The situation in the stadium obviously didn’t help. But purely in terms of football, Xavi’s approach was overwhelmed. There are lessons to be learned here. In terms of tactics, personnel and mentality. It’s just a shame this result all but ends Barcelona’s season.

Above all, Xavi wants his team to be masters of control. Control the ball, control space, control games. But in the harsh world of knockout football, that’s not enough. You have to become masters of chaos, too. Only time will tell if that lesson has finally been learned.

End of thread. These take a while to put together, so RTs are appreciated if you enjoyed 🥂

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