For Cules, the joy after a great victory against Real Betis was short-lived as the news of a long term injury to Ansu Fati broke out.
LaligaBarcelona Ansu Fati Ronald Koeman
Nov. 9, 2020, 7:05 p.m.
In what have been impressive performances compared to recent years in terms of creating chances and the playing style, Barcelona lacks the finishing touch in front of the goal. Ronald Koeman has been very vocal about the player’s inability to finish and has looked frustrated frequently on the sidelines. However, Ansu Fati, who turned 18 earlier this month, has been in great form in front of the goal, scoring five goals, all from open play. A lengthy injury lay off for the wonderkid is a massive concern for the Catalan outfit. Let’s look at some alternative tactics that Koeman can deploy while Fati faces time on the sidelines.
In the match against Real Betis, Koeman rested Messi and went with a 4-2-2-2 formation. Without Messi, this system allowed Griezmann to be the man linking up the attack with defense, a job he did beautifully. However, with Messi returning to the first team, the chances are that Messi will play the role played by Griezmann in the earlier weekend if Koeman sticks with the same formation. Griezmann will most probably occupy the position of Fati, and given the Frenchman's atrocious finishing this season, and he is going be a total bummer in that position. The Catalan side has Martin Braithwaite too, but it seems highly improbable at the moment that Braithwaite will be able to bench Griezmann.
If Koeman wishes to switch to his usual 4-2-3-1 formation, he has multiple options:
Barcelona looks pretty much rejuvenated in the midfield and attack this season. The only part where Barcelona could not rebuild or even start the transition is at the back. Barcelona looks too vulnerable on counter-attacks against teams that just sit back and wait for the right opportunity. Also, the tactical rigidity over the years, means that while playing 4-3-3, Barcelona has lost the ball high up the field while playing out from the back against teams that press high up the pitch with aggression. It seemed to be a pretty obvious option for Barcelona to switch to a double pivot providing extra cover at the back. Given Barcelona’s defensive woes, it’s highly unlikely that Koeman will let demons from the past haunt the Catalans once again.
With the second wave of Coronavirus spreading across Europe, the Catalans have been lucky so far. However, it will be a longshot to say that this will be the case in the coming days. This means that the team needs to have decent options as back up. This is where Konrad De La Fuente, another American talent can play a major role. Coronavirus is continuing to have its toll in terms of fixtures too, all the teams playing in Europe need to play twice a week. Without any doubt, this takes a toll on the players and makes it more and more important to have quality backups. In recent days, there have been strong indications and reports that Barcelona will not stop in their pursuit of Depay, who can play as the much-needed finisher required in this team and can also be an option on the left-wing. The fact that Barcelona has made an attempt to rebuild the squad, one thing is pretty clear that this squad with a great depth offers a lot of tactical flexibility to Koeman, it remains to be seen how he will use this squad to cope with Fati’s injury lay off.