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Atletico Madrid: Date, Time, Live Stream, TV Info and Preview | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors
David Ramos/Getty Images
Barcelona will host defending La Liga champions Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou on Sunday, and a big result against one of the top contenders could go a long way to quelling the controversy surrounding the Blaugrana in the wake of the loss against Real Sociedad.
The Copa del Rey thrashing of Elche took place in front of a small home crowd, who gave manager Luis Enrique a hard time throughout the match and will demand another strong showing on Sunday.
The Atleti are coming off a big 2-0 win over city rivals Real Madrid and will look to continue that momentum against the Catalans, and they will be hoping to take advantage of the turmoil and move into second place in the La Liga standings.
Date: Sunday, January 11
Time: 8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona
TV info and live stream: the match will be broadcast on Sky Sports 5 (for UK viewers) and beIN Sports USA (for US viewers), with mobile coverage available via the Sky Go app and BeIN Sports Connect.
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
The current controversy engulfing the Blaugrana needs little explanation. Reports of a series of incidents between star forward Lionel Messi and Enrique surfaced after the team’s loss against Real Sociedad, and via AS English, Neymar became the latest person close to the situation to deny anything is going on:
AS English @English_AS
Neymar, on Messi-Enrique rift: “I do not like to talk about what happens in the dressing room” http://t.co/ceuCUQxSgq http://t.co/a5QNqdBb2x
The 5-0 thrashing of Elche in midweek somewhat silenced the critics who came out in force after the debacle at the Anoeta, and now more than ever, the Catalans need a big win over a direct rival.
Atletico present the perfect opportunity; tied with Barcelona on points for second in the La Liga standings and just one point behind leaders Real Madrid, who have a match in hand.
The visitors have started 2015 on fire with a strong showing against Levante and an emotional win over Los Blancos, powered by the excellent play of winger Antoine Griezmann. The France international didn’t find the net in the Copa tie, but as shared by Squawka Football, he was simply outstanding in the matches prior:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Over his last two La Liga games, Antoine Griezmann has a conversion rate of 100%, scoring five goals from five shots. http://t.co/sEA68YKaK4
A head-to-head with Dani Alves, who still isn’t back to 100 percent after a spell on the sidelines with an injury, should be music to the ears of Diego Simeone. The Argentinian manager is a master of finding an opponent’s key weakness, and Griezmann’s excellent form has given him the perfect weapon.
Regardless of Atletico’s strengths, Barcelona need to come out as a unit and put the past week behind them. Enrique has so far done a good job of letting the criticism slide off him, and he told reporters the fans’ booing doesn’t bother him, per Goal:
Luis Enrique: Barcelona boo boys don’t bother me http://t. co/cTY8TjtjYn
To have any chance of cracking the defending champions’ vaunted defence, Messi will also have to get past the incidents and focus on the match. He could set another personal milestone if he sees the pitch on Sunday, via BarcaStat:
450 – Messi (449) can make his 450th official Barcelona appearance against Atletico Madrid on Sunday #fcblive
Barcelona lacked any semblance of creativity and urgency at the Anoeta, but their performance against Elche was much improved in both departments. Atletico will undoubtedly frustrate them, but unless the rift between Enrique and his players runs deeper than we know, it’s hard to fathom the Catalans switching off for the second time in one week.
The Atleti aren’t Elche, however, and they boast enough quality of their own to beat any team, whether they’re in-form or not. With momentum in their corner, don’t rule out the visitors.
Final prediction: Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Game model for Barcelona: how the Catalans should act
Future football coach and author of BarsMania Vova Prasolov, after tactical analysis of matches, offers visitors a game model that will help the players to use their strengths most effectively
Barcelona is in state of restructuring. Poor management (terrible transfer policy, indifference to the academy, loss of their own style) in recent years, the overdue generational change, the unexpected departure of Leo – all these factors predetermined a number of difficulties that the club must cope with. There is no doubt that we will be able to endure and return to the top, because Barcelona is more than a club. The question is how long it will take, and what actions in the football sense, including directly on the field, must be taken to bring this return closer.
It is very interesting to watch the development of young players, most of whom are from their own academy, attempts (so far unsuccessful) to form the structure of the game, the atmosphere in the team, which, in my opinion, is one of the main advantages of Barca over rivals.
In this text, I would like to share my thoughts about the potential of the current team and the kind of football that I would like to see in Barcelona matches.
In this section, I will offer my version of the starting lineup, taking into account the readiness of the players to participate in matches, and in the following paragraphs I will demonstrate the basic principles that I would propose to introduce into the team play system.
The 4-3-3 formation will be the starting point for the course of reasoning, so I will continue to talk about filling the starting lineup based on the chosen scheme.
This position raises no questions. Ter Stegen is the undisputed number one. Marc-André has all the basic goalkeeping skills (ribbon play, reaction, timely exits) at the highest level, and he also plays confidently with his feet, which is important for positional football, which is cultivated in the Catalan capital.
In modern football, the goalkeeper, along with the defenders, must take an active part in the beginning of attacks. Losing one player is unreasonable, especially given the high ability of the German in this aspect.
In addition to ter Stegen, the team includes the experienced Neto and two La Masia graduates: Iñaki Peña and Arnau Tenas. I would really like that in the absence of Mark due to injury or simply due to rotation, for example, in the King’s Cup, our canteranos get their chance, first of all, because it hurts to see how year after year the club does not give a chance to its own pupils in this position, buying understudies from other teams.
First, you need to decide on a pair of central defenders. The team has six players of this role: Piqué, Araujo, Garcia, Lenglet, Umtiti and Mingesa.
Given the difficulties with full-backs, Oscar Mingesa will often be used on the flank due to his versatility, so we will form the main combination from the remaining five.
Umtiti and Lenglet had a weak last season: Samuel suffered from injuries, and Clement began to make many mistakes, as a result of which it seems that he has lost confidence in himself, therefore, the main candidates for a place at the start are Piqué, Araujo, Garcia.
Gerard is one of the captains and leader of the team, as well as a person who loves the club and is ready to do anything for it, which he repeatedly proved during his career. He gives confidence to the team, he is important for maintaining a good atmosphere and developing young players, which we have enough. In addition, his defensive skills are also valuable. Although in recent years he has lost in speed and has become more prone to injury, he still remains a useful and important player.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to take into account the age of the Catalan (34 years), so we will form the main pair of central defenders for many years from Araujo and Garcia.
Football players complement each other perfectly with different strengths. Eric has a pass and good vision of the field, which is important for starting attacks (a typical La Masia graduate), but is weak in martial arts and in high-speed duels, which Ronald is able to compensate for. The powerful Uruguayan defender has the anthropometric data that allows him to perform well on the second floor, and is also quite fast and good in the fight. In my opinion, such a balance, given the teamwork that will come with time, can make this combination of central defenders the main one for many years to come.
In the first matches of the season, Araujo mostly moved to the right, and Garcia adjusted to his partner, but recently we have seen the opposite situation. It takes time to determine the best position, so I won’t focus on that now.
Jordi Alba is the main option for the left back position. After the departure of Messi and the subsequent disintegration of their link, the threat posed by #18 began to decrease, but he still remains an important link in the final phase of the attack (more in the following sections). On defense, the veteran has questions: playing in a high position, he often exposes the zone behind his back, periodically loses power duels and, in general, is not a very reliable defender, but his contribution to attacking actions compensates for these shortcomings.
Candidate to replace the Catalan is young Alex Balde. The pupil performed well in pre-season games and deserved playing time. Practice is essential for development, so a canterano should receive regular playing time. Given Jordi’s age and number of injuries, this will be quite realistic. The most important thing is to avoid damage yourself.
Dest can also quite successfully close the left touchline, but his priority should be his native position on the right flank: Serginho is currently the only profile full-back on the right flank, therefore, there are no questions about who will start at the start. The candidate to replace the American is Oscar Minges. Thanks to his versatile qualities (capable of playing both in the center and on the flank of the defense), the Catalan has earned confidence and will appear on the field frequently during the season. I do not consider the candidacy of Roberto in the context of playing on the right in defense, since the Catalan is most useful in midfield, which will be described below.
Moving on to my favorite line where we have a wide variety of quality players capable of playing attacking football.
Busquets. In recent years, the player has been subjected to serious criticism, but his importance to the team cannot be denied. His absence is always very noticeable. Sergio is a system-forming player, important both in the build-up (the process of getting out of his goal, the initial stage of the attack), and in the positional attack and even when pressing. It connects defense with attack, which ensures stable movement of the ball.
We will put Pedri and Frankie in the company of the captain in the center of the field. Both players are very important for moving the ball: they are able to open between the lines, find space, and also free up areas for partners.
The whole trio has a high football intelligence and is able to act in the manner necessary for Barca: ball control, maximum advancement, dominance in the center of the field.
For those who are able to take the field in case of injury, suspension or rotation, here we have a large selection.
Ricky Puig and Gavi are functionally similar to Pedri and Franky, adding movement in midfield to help get the ball to the attacking zone faster.
Nico Gonzalez could replace Busquets. The young pupil resembles the captain both in anthropometric data (unusually tall for the pupils of La Masia) and in position (defensive midfielder). Canterano has all the qualities (vision of the field, passing, good reading of episodes and the game in general) to become the successor of a club legend in the future.
And don’t forget about Roberto. There is no doubt that Sergi should be used in midfield, and not close problematic positions with his help, as it has been for many seasons. He has all the necessary qualities (which were described above) to enter positions in the center of the field. He can be considered a “wild card” in difficult matches.
We complete the staffing by selecting those who should be responsible for completing episodes and providing a significant share of the team’s goals.
To dominate in positional football it is necessary to create width when attacking, as the opponent covers more spaces, therefore the defense is stretched and there are free zones where attacking players can break into.
Barcelona have Fati and Dembele at their disposal for this. These players are able to create the necessary width in attack, as well as carry the ball through dribbling, which is important for players in their role.
I would like to believe that health problems will not torment the players and they will be able to spend a lot of time on the field.
Personally, I have long been disappointed in Ousmane because of his attitude and actions on the field: in my opinion, despite his outstanding skills in handling the ball, he lacks game intelligence and timely decision-making (the Frenchman often overplays the ball, thus slowing down the attacks), but it remains to be hoped that Dembele will become more professional in training and playing discipline on the field, maintaining the structure (keeping the width and moving to the center in a timely manner, freeing up the area for the inclusion of the full-back).
I’ll put Memphis in the remaining offensive position. The Dutchman has good speed and dribbling, able to act on the flank, edge and in the draw.
Yusuf Demir is an attractive option: he knows how to work with the ball, adds to the creation, and also gathers opponent players on himself, freeing up space for his partner, at the moment he will be a candidate for a replacement (a situation in which the Austrian can achieve a place in the starting composition will be described in the following sections).
Luc de Jong and Sergio Aguero do not fit into my concept of Barcelona’s game: the Dutchman is imprisoned under awnings, his strongest weapons are actions on the “second floor”, and in the case of the Argentinean, age and injuries no longer allow the player to play intensively for a long time period of time.
Martin Braithwaite (with all due respect to what he went through in his life, overcoming serious health problems) is not the player that the club needs. In games for the national team, the Dane showed that he is not only an exceptional free-kick, but, in my opinion, is inferior to his competitors for entering the starting lineup at the club.
Initial attack phase
When building an attack, it is necessary to create situations in which players have several options for advancing and one as a safety net.
Let’s divide the field into “five channels”: players on the flanks are responsible for creating width, and midfielders located in the half-flanks (Pedry and Frenkie) are responsible for advancing the ball.
Busquets plays the role of point guard: most of the passes go through him, he controls the pace of the game (speeds up / slows down), and is also responsible for transferring the ball from one side of the field to the other.
The purpose of the positional attack is to score a goal, that is, all team actions must be focused on advancement and sharpening. To do this, you need to have clear tools for breaking the opponent’s defense.
Competent saturation of the center of the field is one of the main aspects for organizing an effective positional attack: Busquets, Franky, Pedri form a creative and mobile triangle, which allows you to move the ball faster. Memphis is not a finishing striker: he must look for spaces between the lines to get the ball in the danger zone in front of someone else’s penalty area.
Fati and Dembélé’s task is to give width to the attack: placing forwards closer to the edge of the field will not allow the opponent to play as compactly as possible, which will reduce their chances of tackling. Moreover, the constant interactions of the midfielders with Ansu and Usman will introduce an imbalance in the opponent’s structure and form zones into which Frankie, Pedri or Depay will burst.
An important note is the high position of the full-backs: Alba and Dest should be close to the opponent’s box, creating opportunities for passes, as well as preventing the opposition from playing narrowly when Ansu and Usman move from the flank to the center (maintain the width of the attack).
It is necessary that the wingers (Fati/Dembele) and the laterals (Alba/Dest) do not interfere with each other. There should not be situations where flank players meet in the same zone. This requires a timely shift of the attackers from the edge to the center when connecting the extreme defenders.
In the case of the “ten”, you should not worry: moving from the flank to the center is one of Fati’s favorite tricks, which he regularly uses during matches. On the other side is Dembele: Usman is technically gifted, has good speed, but, in my opinion, does not have the proper game intelligence (I described this aspect in more detail a little higher), so if Dest connects there will be difficulties (the inability to divide the zone), then Demir will be able to appear on the field.
Yusuf tends to move closer to the center, as well as play with the ball, which binds the opposition players to him and opens up space for Serginho.
Good positional football requires the presence of triangles, since it is this arrangement that creates options for passing and advancing, because the ball does not move in a straight line, but, as it were, bypasses the players of the opposite team, breaking the lines.
Pressing is one of the main aspects necessary to control the ball, because if the team does not create competent pressure, then they cannot regain the ball on a stable basis, and therefore control it for a long period of time.
Given the desire to see an attacking game from the Catalans, it is necessary to have clear instructions for action in the pressure: Fati and Dembele must go to the goalkeeper, thus preventing the opponents from calmly starting the build-up. Important Note: The diagonal move is the most effective, as the player then covers the most space for a potential pass.
The task of Memphis in this case is to block the option with advancement through the center. In the event that the opponent uses two defensive midfielders, one of the Frankie/Pedry pair must play one of them, helping Depay.
If at the beginning of the attacks the opponent plays with three players from behind, then our attackers must act on the defenders, and the midfielders (Frenki / Pedri) close the zones on the approaches to the opponent’s penalty area. Busquets needs to become a reference in the middle of the field. The team must line up depending on its location, so the choice of position by the captain is extremely important.
The basic concept is the use of zone pressure (with the exception of the actions of forwards in the initial phase of the attack), since personal pressure gives the opponent the opportunity to manipulate the position of the players, this approach also requires well-adjusted actions, good physical preparation and incredible teamwork.
The primary task is to prevent the opponent from pushing the ball through the center: move the game to the flanks, where it is easier to create pressure and take the ball away, because the opponent has fewer options (limits the touchline). At the edges of the field, pressure is most effective, so you should use just such a technique – block the central zone.
Thus, the distribution of roles in the basic structure of pressing will be as follows: the wingers (Ansu / Usman) are the first to start pressure, moving diagonally and, as it were, narrowing the space for the opponent, Memphis blocks the options with the transfer to the defensive midfielder, and the midfielders (Franki /Pedry) operate in their own zones.
Another important point is the high line of defense. It is necessary for the team to operate in a compact block without the ball (the main task is to narrow the field for the opponent, because this complicates the advancement options: the smaller the space, the more difficult it is to make an accurate pass). In the event that gaps form between the lines, any pressure loses its meaning.
Attackers who initiate pressure and a diamond in the center of the field that moves compactly on the ball – this is how the proposed concept of pressing for Barcelona can be summarized.
4-4-2 (diamond) as an alternative
The basic formation is 4-3-3, but you must have alternatives. My suggestion: 4-4-2 with a diamond in midfield.
This arrangement allows you to cover the central zone for the advance of the opponent, as well as better control of the ball, having one player more in the zone.
As for the filling of this formation, the priority for me is Gavi or Riki Puig’s exit to the position at the top of the diamond. Coutinho can also be used in this role, but the previous years of the Brazilian’s career do not give any reason to believe that the player is capable of working out on a permanent basis in pressure, which is why his role in my team is so insignificant.
The main aspects of pressing remain the same: wingers start pressure, options for passes through the center overlap, high defensive line remains compact.
In positional attacks, the wingers and laterals create width, the midfielders open up and look for space between the lines, the defensive midfielder, together with the central defenders, begin to build up the attack.
Barcelona has a fairly strong squad. If all the players are ready, we get a clip consisting of quality players who are able to play attacking football. The most important thing is to create a system that will maximize the strengths of the composition. With the structure of the game built, the change of several players does not bring destructive changes, since the game is based on well-established mechanisms, and not on personalities.
In this article, I set out my ideas and visions of Barca’s game, without taking into account the figure of the head coach and the potential decisions of the club’s management.
Write your thoughts about how you would like to see the game of the Catalan club.
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