Football: the beautiful game, or a sport of statistics? Is it better to be direct or hold possession? Most managers choose their tactics according to their team, and in order to get the best possible result out of their players.
Many would describe Chelsea's qualification to the Champions League final as a 'lucky' incident. They kept defending against Barcelona, both home and away games, but managed to go through with the scoreboard showing 3-2 to Chelsea on aggregate.
Tight defending against a team that keeps passing the ball around is more than necessary. If you don't do that and you fall into the trap of chasing after the ball, strengths will fall short when they are needed to chase players out of your box.
There is no way that Barcelona's accomplishments can be overlooked or diminished, but their tactics haven't changed for the last five to six years. Most top-flight managers already created a plan that could use against a team that seems unbeatable.
Keeping the ball for 70 minutes and not scoring can't be regarded as attacking football. Possession is important in football but scoring is everything.
The Catalans kept torturing a 10-man Chelsea side, but failed to breach their defensive line effectively more than once. All Chelsea players were waiting behind the half-way line and only attacked when appropriate. What else are you supposed to do in the Camp Nou?
The same happened to them against Real Madrid the previous weekend to the Blues. Jose Mourinho's team scored first, Barcelona equalised, then conceded again and failed to recover. Thus, losing any hope they had for winning the title.
Prior to the game Mourinho unveiled his strategy. If they score we have to reply instantly because they settle and try to control the game.
As a team, Barcelona register at least 500 complete passes per game. It is impressive, there's no denying that, but how many of those passes were crucial? If out of those 500, only 200 helped the team to create two or three goals and the rest were simply knocking the ball between defenders and defensive midfielder, then they don't embrace a really attacking form of football. In reality, they look like they are attacking when they are defending.
When Arsene Wenger introduced his passing mentality in the Premier League, and Arsenal's triangles didn't leave opposition defenders to even come close to the ball, everyone called the Gunners' plain mentality boring. Even nowadays, you don't see Arsenal shooting from outside the box often, and is something that is considered a weakness for a team.
Real Madrid and Chelsea are the living proof that the best team in the world (as Barcelona is dubbed by most people) has no plan B. When their passing game fails them and Lionel Messi is closed down by the opposition's defenders, they don't know what else to rely on.
They don't have tall players up front so they can't cross the ball, and only a minimal number of shots is taken from outside the box. In Barcelona's case it is often overlooked because they create enough chances, but all of them start from the same player and follow the same formation.
Unfortunately, Barcelona's plan B seems to be an awarded penalty or a red card to the opposition.
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