Game models are crucial in football. What would you say if someone who never saw Xavi’s Barcelona asked you to describe his team? If you can confidently and concisely answer that question, there’s a clear game model in place at the Camp Nou. Personally, however, I find it difficult to give a clear response.
We all know what Barcelona are meant to look like but Barcelona don’t always look like it. Not anywhere near it, in fact. The sheer discrepancy between those two versions of the same team - one fluid, compact and positional and the other disjointed, panicky and (too vertical) - is monumental. And the fact they are one and the same, often within the 90 minutes of a single match, is scary. It’s scary because it signals a lack of a clear game model. Or rather, it’s scary because the players are yet to adopt a clear model. Or even worse, it’s scary because Xavi can’t properly implement or coach a clear game model.
The 4-0 defeat against Real Madrid in the heart of Catalonia was horrible. But even worse was the total surrender of principles in the second half of the game, especially considering how dominant the first 45 minutes were. The first half of tonight’s game was perhaps one of Barcelona’s best, if not the very best, halves of football this season. Why? Simple.