Every once in a blue moon, Barcelona – much to everyones joy – look a tad ordinary. It’s rare, but we’re sure they will look like the regular immortals when the inevitable happens: Arsenal or Manchester City drawing the Catalonians in the last eight of the Champions League, should the English sides progress.
However, perhaps Gunners and Citizens fans can hold their breath, as Luis Enrique is stalling Barca’s improvement, and Zinedine Zidane’s approach is embarrassing the La Liga giants.
Luis Enrique and his team are a sinking ship. Zidane is running away with the title.
— Munza Di ALN (@YourBoyImmunity) January 9, 2017
Barca find themselves five points off Real Madrid, and Los Blancos have a game in hand. On top of this, Barca lost their Copa del Rey first-leg against Atletico Bilbao. The problem? Enrique is not doing anything. The Spaniard’s being lazy, resting on his laurels of success and it’s costing his side. The fact that Neymar hasn’t scored in 11 games shows how his boss is not utilising the Brazilian effectively.
The Barca boss found a system which worked: 4-3-3. And, of course it would, you’ve got the best attacking trio to grace the game. Now, it’s coming a bit unstuck and Enrique hasn’t changed anything. He’s kept the same shape, the same system, the same personnel. The Spaniard needs to take a leaf out of his predecessor, Pep Guardiola’s book. This is what Barca legend, Andre Iniesta had to say to his former boss…
“We’re playing brilliantly, we’re enjoying training. Please, don’t change anything.”
Pep was so obsessed with making sure things were fresh, so meticulous about adapting his side, that it got to the point for his senior players having to tell him to slow down. Enrique is not following suit, and he’s been stubborn and complacent. By contrast, his counterpart over in the Spanish capital has followed Guardiola’s approach.
Zidane what man ! Finding solutions, Clearly adapting his team&strategy depending on the opponent, Keeping players motivated & yeah Winning
— ASHES (@ashfutbol7) January 4, 2017
Take Gareth Bale’s injury, Los Blancos were playing well, and the shape was working for them. The Welshman gets injured, and Zidane changes the system. Moving from a 4-3-3 to a 4-3-1-2 has allowed Madrid to continue at a cantor, whilst changing the personnel of the likes of Isco and James Rodriguez has inspired the Los Blancos team.
There is a constant rotation and adaptation amongst the Real Madrid pack, whilst Barcelona persist on a system which worked well for them a couple of years ago. As Antonio Conte has found out, teams figure the formations out, the opposition gets stronger and fitter; you have to be more flexible in your management style, and it’s something that Enrique is failing in.
With a tough Champions League draw against PSG, Arsenal or Manchester City might not get to meet their old foe; which, ironically, could be much to the English side’s disappointment this year.