Well here’s something to sink your teeth into — according to Sport, Barcelona are planning to use a 4-4-2 diamond to stifle Bayern Munich in their upcoming clash in the Champions League. Blaugrana manager Quique Setien is planning to put four midfielders behind Leo Messi and Luis Suarez, presumably in an attempt to stifle Bayern’s creativity and support the best player in the world.
Here’s the front page from Sport, which they’re clearly very proud of:
The diamond midfield will supposedly consist of a quartet of Arturo Vidal, Frenkie De Jong, Sergio Busquets, and Sergi Roberto. Antoine Griezmann will drop to the bench under this setup, while there is no mention of Ousmane Dembele. Presumably, both players will be available as substitutes, should the need arise.
Now, as a Bayern Munich fan, I can see where Setien might be going with this (provided the report is true). Bayern play a 4-2-3-1 with heavy emphasis on the wings. A diamond midfield would be an ideal way for Barca to stifle service to Robert Lewandowski out wide by allowing the midfielders to efficiently support the fullbacks. It also allows the Catalans the chance to outnumber Thiago Alcantara and Leon Goretzka in midfield, opening up opportunities to play Leo Messi and Luis Suarez into dangerous goal-scoring positions.
The problem is — this just seems like such an anti-Barca setup. Even if they’re not at their best at the moment, you wouldn’t expect the club that takes Cruyff-ian principles to heart abandon the 4-3-3 for a more defensive formation. Perhaps Sport is mistaken, or they’re making too much out of a simple training session experiment. Certainly, if Dembele is fit enough to start, Setien would be missing out by not having him matched up against Joshua Kimmich on the flank.
Whatever happens, Hansi Flick is unlikely to change his tactics based on what Barca are doing. The report also mentions that Philippe Coutinho is allowed to play in the game, which is a hilariously irrelevant piece of info given the nature of the tie. Also, we here at BFW will be doing a breakdown of Barca and Bayern’s strengths and weaknesses for the upcoming game in the coming days, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, why not comment on what you think Setien is up to?
Is a 4-4-2 diamond a good solution for Barca?
This poll is closed
Yes, it’ll stifle Bayern.
No, it’s too static.
Who cares? They have Messi.
Update: Extra background info
Now, before we all get carried away, here’s some extra background info courtesy of our friends over at Barca Blaugranes. Before Barca’s UCL tie with Napoli, Sport reported that Quique Setien was planning to use a 3-5-2 against the Italian side with Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba as wingbacks. Meanwhile, Mundo Deportivo predicted a more standard 4-3-1-2 formation, with Griezmann behind a strike pairing of Messi and Suarez.
Barcelona formation vs. Napoli reported by SPORT (left) and by MD (right)— Luis Mazariegos (@luism8989) August 3, 2020
SPORT: 3-5-2 with Riqui
MD: 4-3-1-2 with Griezmann pic.twitter.com/8NsnHHZgnr
Now, with the benefit of hindsight, we know that Sport’s prediction was wrong while MD’s prediction was spot on. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve got it wrong a second time, but it does cast some doubt on the credibility of their reporting on this subject. Alternatively, Sport might have been correct with their reporting at the time, and Quique Setien simply changed his plans after he tested the 3-5-2 in training.
This is a lot to consider, and probably won’t affect the tie in the slightest. But this update is meant to bring you the full picture, and let you come to your own conclusion about what’s going on. In the end, we won’t know how each team lines up until they reveal the starting XI’s one hour before kickoff on Friday.