There has been an intriguing line to recently emerge concerning how Barcelona will get the best out of their attacking trio of Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi next season, with the results potentially explosive.
Whilst training at England's St. George's Park facilities, Luís Enrique has got his side working on a 3-2-3-2 formation, which would allow Neymar and Suarez to play up front, supported by Lionel Messi, operating in a deeper position.
Messi plays a similar role at international level, with Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero often drifting out wide, dragging defenders with them, leaving space for Messi to work his magic.
Although he was slightly off colour at the World Cup, the tactic has got the best out of Messi at international level. Messi even took to criticising Alejandro Sabella, when the Argentina boss moved away from the tactic in Argentina's opening game of the World Cup.
The role of Ivan Rakitic will be crucial if Barça do line up in a 3-2-3-2 formation. The Croatian midfielder, signed from Sevilla, will be the link between Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets, who will provide cover for the back three, and the attacking midfielders.
As he demonstrated last season, Rakitic has the attributes to be effective as a playmaker behind the striker, or in a deeper role. This tactical flexibility will allow the team to translate fluidly from attack to defence.
The signing of Jérémy Mathieu becomes clearer when applied to this formation. Comfortable in possession and left-footed, the Frenchman provides balance in defence alongside Gerard Pique and Marc Bartra.
Sergio Busquets is adept at dropping into the back-line when Barça don't have possession, so the back three essentially becomes a back four. Javier Mascherano's tenacity means, when played slightly further up the pitch than Busquets, he can squeeze possession and ensure the opposition aren't able to break quickly.
No room for Dani Alves
Rumours of the buccaneering full-backs exit from the Camp Nou have faded away, but on his World Cup showing, where he was dropped for an ageing Maicon, Daniel Alves is no longer an undisputed starter.
The lack of full-backs in the 3-2-3-2 formation could signal Luís Enrique's intentions to move the Brazilian on, especially given he doesn't have the tactical flexibility of his compatriot Adriano, who is capable of fulfilling several roles. Where Jordi Alba fits into the side isn't immediately obvious either.
Just an idea
Just because Enrique is trying out a 3-2-3-2 formation doesn't necessarily mean he will start the season with it. The modern game requires tactical flexibility, so the formation could be one of a few Enrique is planning to familiarise his squad to.
What it does signify is that Enrique is going to get Barça playing at the tempo they used to terrify teams with under Pep Guardiola. The added impetus of youngsters Gerard Deulofeu and Rafinha has increased the energy in the squad, whilst Luis Suarez is capable of harassing defenders and leading the defence from the front in the manor that a younger Lionel Messi did.
Tactical awareness was something Barcelona lacked under Tata Martino, so it is refreshing to see Luís Enrique arriving with new and ingenious ideas. With the backing of key players, something not attained under Martino, Barcelona should be a real force in both Spain and Europe next season!
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