How do United and Barcelona avoid the gaps before clashing Europa League?Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
The draw for the play-offs to qualify for the European League’s eighth final round “Europaleg” resulted in a strong and difficult confrontation between Barcelona and Manchester United.
The first leg of the supplement stage will be held on February 16, and the second leg on February 23.
The draw for the final price will be held on February 24, the first leg on March 9, and the return on the 16th of the same month.
What caught the attention was the return of Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo to the Camp Nou again, which witnessed his brilliance in many matches when he was a Real Madrid player.
The Barcelona and Manchester United match brought to mind the matches that were held between them in the Champions League, in which the Catalan team excels greatly, as the two teams have previously met in 13 matches, Barcelona won in 6 matches, while Manchester United won 3 matches and 4 matches ended in a draw.
The last confrontation between Barcelona and Manchester United was in 2019, in which the two teams met in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, where Barcelona won the first leg with three clean goals, and in the return match with a clean goal.
The two teams are similar in the same motives, as Barcelona is looking to win the European League title in order to reconcile its fans angry in the last period due to the loss of the Clasico against Real Madrid and then exit from the Champions League.
Barcelona, led by its Spanish coach Xavi Hernandez, aspired to crown the Champions League in order to restore the glories of the Catalan team in Europe after leaving last season without titles, whether local or continental.
As for Manchester United, with its new technical staff led by Dutchman Eric Ten Hag, it seeks to have the Red Devils championships back under his leadership, especially in light of the suffering experienced by the team in the past period, as it did not participate in the European Champions League this season because of its presence in sixth place with 58 points.
Thus, the motives of the two teams are the same, which is to win away from the history of confrontations and the numbers that speak of Barcelona’s superiority, as it is known that the Euroleague matches differ, whether from the English Premier League, the Spanish League and the Champions League, which is what Xavi and Ten Hag put in their calculations.
But the question remains, who can take advantage of the gaps during the home and away matches? Will one of the coaches change his plan or continue as usual?
Answering these questions confirms that Ten Hag, since he was signed at the end of last season, will not change his plan at all, whether in the presence or absence of his first star, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Cons and loopholes of the Teen Hag plan
United recently relied on the same method of playing Ten Hag, which is 4-2-3-1 with building play from the back to preserve the ball and pull opponents away from their positions, which required the presence of the duo Martial or Cristiano Ronaldo in the attacking center, while the wings support the attacker worse Using crosses or creating spaces from behind.
In the presence of Ronaldo, the matter is slightly different, as he is the most prominent striker in the front line, and therefore crosses are sent extensively due to his ability to score with the head, and his descent to the 18 area in order to receive the ball in the last third.
Among the gaps that Barcelona can exploit against United is that Tin Hag’s plan relies only on 6 defenders, who are two central defenders with a defensive quartet, and therefore in the event that any player from the full-backs is delayed, United will be in a crisis that can be exploited by the Barcelona parties who are characterized by speed, whether Rafinia Or Ousmane Dembele or even Ansu Fati.
Pros of the Tin Hag Plan
As for the pros of Tin Hag’s plan, Manchester United reach the opponents’ goal heavily, but wasted opportunities is a series that has not ended until this moment, which is what the Red Devils have suffered from.
Although Barcelona is also suffering from many injuries, especially in the defense line, the negativity of the United players in wasting opportunities will not correspond to the result that Tin Hag’s comrades want.
Disadvantages of Xavi’s plan
On the other hand, Barcelona under the leadership of Xavi relies on a 4-3-3 plan, which is a traditional formation to a large extent since a long time from Xavi, Barcelona contracted with Xavi after a series of bad results under the leadership of the Dutchman Komen, in order to develop the performance of the players and unify The game plan, which Xavi achieved despite the difficulties facing the Catalan team, but he succeeded in building a new team and they implemented the plan perfectly.
Barcelona also contracted with the Polish Robert Lewandowski, the former Bayern Munich striker, to be one of the most important trump cards that Xavi exploits, as he relies on his good shots on goal, excellent heading balls and his movements that are difficult to monitor from any defender.
Despite the good things that we find in the 4-3-3 plan, there are negatives and gaps that may be exploited by the rival teams, for example, that the front trio did not return to the back when losing the ball, which negatively affects the entire team, especially in light of the incomplete readiness of the midfielder Busquets, and in the absence of help, the back line finds itself in front of 5 players, which causes them to receive goals.
Pros of Xavi’s plan
On the other hand, Barcelona has a front line at the highest level. For example, in the last match in Almeria in the Spanish League, the trio of Ousmane Dembele, Robert Levadowski and Ferran Torres managed to exploit the mistakes of the defense and the goalkeeper and ended the match 2-0.
In addition to the front line, Xavi gives the three-midfield more defensive instructions with a slight increase for Pedri and Jaffe to make play in attack, with the brilliance of Ter Stegen, Barcelona goalkeeper, which is one of the reasons for the success of the Catalan team and not conceding goals.
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