The Catalan revolution has indeed started after a trophyless season. Tata Martino has been replaced by Luis Enrique as the manager of the club. Stars such as Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez have been sold, whereas the club have bought a series of high profile players like quality midfielder Ivan Rakitic and world-class striker Luis Suarez. Plans are being made to add more unpredictability and directness to their ‘tiki-taka’ style of play. Moreover, there are serious conversations about whether the Blaugrana should continue to use the 4-3-3 formation, which they have used an extended period of time or seek an alternate formation.
The 4-3-3 formation has given the club a great degree success in the past. The style used by Barcelona while playing this formation , however, has been exposed by opponents and it has become obvious for quite a while that this formation can no longer guarantee success like it once did. Moreover, this formation can work for the Catalans only if two of the three forwards are assigned the help the center-forward. For example, during the 2010-11 season, David Villa and Pedro were secondary strikers and their job was to get the best out of Messi, who was the main forward. But, Neymar and Luis Suarez, particularly the former, are strikers who, like Messi, prefer to be the primary strikers. Hence, keeping either of the two or Messi as the central attacker would mean banishing two of these strikers to the wings. That’s enough reason to suggest that they should not bank on a 4-3-3 to win them titles with the current crop of players.
Here’s a look at the potential 3-4-3 diamond formation starting XI:
Pique Vermaelen Mathieu
Three at the back, can it work? Louis van Gaal showed in the World Cup that an organized three-man defence can be quite effective. His Netherlands defense consisted of Stefan De Vrij, Ron Vlaar and Bruno Martins Indi – none of whom are world-class – and conceded only four goals in six games. Gerard Pique or Marc Bartra would slot in as the right defender, whereas Thomas Vermaelen could be the central figure, leaving Jeremy Mathieu as the left defender. As Vermaelen is currently injured, Pique or Mascherano could start in the sweeper position whilst the Belgian is rehabilitating. There’s also the option to play either Bartra or Martin Montoya in the right-hand side of defense.