Special AS LaLiga Santander 2020-21: players, teams, tactics ...

Year 17 of the Messi era. LaLiga 2020-21 kicks off. It does so full of uncertainty due to the pandemic, empty of public and without signings, with the altered calendar and a sour taste due to the conflict between the Argentine and Barça. There is a certain melancholy in the environment, only broken by lashes like Ansu Fati, the leader of the fifth of the virus, kids who nest in various teams to make us forget that rare silence of the stadiums.


"I stay." With these two words, pronounced in flip-flops and red shorts, Leo Messi suddenly redefined a start to the season that promised to be an inventory of absences: the Argentine star, the public, the summer tournaments, the glittering signings ... They were missing until Real Madrid, Barça and Atleti on the first day due to the art of this asymmetric calendar altered by the virus, which postpones up to three games to 2021 on the first two dates, respectively. A mess. Chance also wanted us to add absence after absence, so that Cádiz and Osasuna are going to see each other on the first day to remind us that Michael Robinson, who loved those two clubs like few others, is no longer with us.

But Messi arrived, he said he was staying and from the duel due to so much absence we have gone to a kind of melancholic déjà-vu. Again the Argentine at Barça with a sulky gesture, the tug of war of the losses of Madrid and the Blaugrana club to balance the accounts (Rakitic, James, Brahim, Achraf ...), a new year with Cholo in search of that killer How much has been longed for since the times of Forlán or Falcao (will this be the Champions League?), the ankle that yes but not Hazard's, the future of the (ex?) footballer Bale, the conflict of Second Division promotions, the legal skirmishes between LaLiga, the Federation and the CSD… Issues that have dragged on since the end of last season and that once again mark a championship that ended as it should and starts as it can.

It is a success that the competition gets under way, but it is no less true that it catches us with a somewhat shrunken stomach due to the persistent pandemic and its effects. The traditional illusion of these days is obscured by many unanswered questions: When will we return to our seat in the stadium? How many more games will have to be postponed because of the virus? How many points will be lost due to contagion? Will the football we know endure a long and intense season, from this September 12, with an Eibar-Celta, until May 23, avoiding the traps that COVID-19 is putting us on the road? Weird all, very weird.

A good part of the lights point, of course, to the Camp Nou, although we have to wait until the end of this month to see Koeman's men in action. Messi remains, at least this season, but with him more things remain. In the first place, the sporting and institutional crisis of Barça, which now has its epicenter in the Argentine, but whose echoes reach all levels of the club. Valdano said that there was only something worse than the march of the crack, and that is that it stays this way. It could be, or not. Messi speaks better on the pitch than off it, so now he has a tremendous opportunity to impose his tale and gloriously close, if he so wishes, the 20 best years in the club's history, which are also the years of his history as a professional footballer.

The damned burofax is already part of the Blaugrana mythology. That is hopeless, but it is still a technical pirouette, a legal move for a contractual problem. On the other hand, what Messi said in the interview to Goal.com with which he decided to stay in Barcelona has much more depth: “There has been no project for a long time and there is nothing. They are juggling and covering holes ”. It is a devastating statement. Hence its importance and need for explanation. Not only because of its forcefulness, but also because of the paradox it contains. It is difficult to find a modern footballer who has won more official club titles than Messi, who is 34 (his former teammate Dani Alves is at the top of the table with 36, and Real Madrid player Sergio Ramos owns 22), in addition to individual trophies and records. endless. The Argentine has therefore won more than two titles per year at Barça. Bartomeu's stage has been, to make matters worse, the most fruitful for him: 13 winches in six seasons.

It is true that the 10th and Barça have not won the Champions League since June 2015 (against Juventus, in Berlin), with performances to forget against Roma, Liverpool and Bayern in these years, a period in which Madrid has achieved three consecutive titles. There it hurts. But which club can guarantee the maximum continental title? None. Liverpool had not touched the orejona since 2005. And Bayern, so fashionable now, reigning champions after its overwhelming campaign, had been fighting for it for seven years without success. Not to mention the millionaire PSG. Then where does Messi's wound really bleed?

His words, addressed to the board of directors, have resonated strongly in the locker room, where, as Juan Jiménez recalled a few days ago in AS, there is a world champion (Griezmann), someone else considered the best in his position (De Jong or Ter Stegen), many people from the house who participated in these two formidable decades for Barça (Busquets, Piqué, Sergi Roberto ...) and not a few footballers of great cache. Have they been taken for granted? The fit of this new Messi in Koeman's new wardrobe will fill much news. Because it depends on whether this is his last year (or not), he is benevolent with whom he has given so much to an entity paid to patiment (suffering in Catalan) .

Football always has an ace up its sleeve. When it seems that everything is summed up in the discomfort of some and the incompetence of others, suddenly a flash arises that takes us back to the neighborhood and childhood with a 17-year-old boy. We already had news about Ansu Fati, but it remained to be seen if the anxiety to find the new Messi was not going to end him, as it happened with so many others. We do not know what this boy will be like, but his appearance in the National Team allows us to dream of the best. Who knows if the current and depressing situation of FC Barcelona is the best fertilizer for a different footballer to grow and consolidate, capable of doing the most difficult thing: making the game look easy.

From the Blaugrana drama, this Madrid hooked on Zidane's smile will do well to extract the appropriate lessons. The virus League won in the last stretch of the championship saved a season that, like that of Barça, had many shadows. The title was valued as it deserves by Zidane, determined to show that his Madrid is a consistent team, capable of sustaining long-term tournaments, but the sad performance in the Champions League and Cup is a warning that should not be overlooked.

Zidane will verify that LaLiga is a plate that is fed up soon, and that without Champions everything seems to be little. Until the culmination of Florentino Pérez's new great project –Mbappé and a new coliseum where to enjoy it–, Madrid needs the best version of Hazard (unpublished in his first year), Vinicius Jr. (this is his third season and so far it has been a nice Guadiana) or Asensio (those who placed him in the race for the Ballon d'Or should be satisfied that he has a smooth season). With Benzema (32 years old) and Sergio Ramos (34 years old and without renewal) you can compete, but not as much as some believe.

The arrival of Odegaard is, perhaps, the best news that the white club can offer in these times with hardly any signings. After five years of merit, the Norwegian finally finds a place in the club of his dreams. At Real he has proven to be an important player, called on to great moments. The Bernabéu will have to take care of the boy, so as not to frustrate expectations that, without a doubt, are at the highest level. Madrid does not suffer an institutional crisis, something that seems unthinkable as its president has designed its power structure. Florentino Pérez is building a unique stadium to house a unique player, Mbappé. The idea could not be more attractive, as long as you do not forget that this is soccer, a sport that is often written with crooked lines.

At the assault of the duopoly that governs our football, Atlético and Sevilla are presented (they play the European Super Cup with Bayern on September 24), in addition to Villarreal, Valencia and some covered, that there will be. Atlético is still looking for a scorer to balance the squad. The Cholo team needs more efficiency in front of the goal to make the performance of such interesting men as João Félix or Llorente useful. They are not the only ones. LaLiga has plenty of young talent. They are the fifth of the virus, which is widely distributed: Ansu Fati (Barça), Odegaard (Madrid), Kubo (Villarreal), Isak (Real Sociedad), Koundé (Sevilla), Lee Kang-in (Valencia), Unai Simón (Athletic ) ...

They are guys who have to be promoted because without signings or with middle-class signings like Pjanic (Barça), the talent gap that leaves every year is not covered. There are Ferran Torres, James, Rodrigo, Cazorla, Achraf or Ceballos, who join the Lucas Hernández, Rodri, Kepa, Pablo Sarabia and others from previous years. The departure of Messi, after those of Neymar and Cristiano, would have followed a very hard blow for LaLiga. Let's see what happens with the Argentine. The saying goes that when you say you are leaving, you are gone. But this is football.

Football on television gives the possibility of masking the new normal. Holograms of fans in the stands and ambient sound through the audio. Everything is ready for the fans to enjoy on the screen, but what about the fan who went to the stadium? Soccer is the most important thing of the least, said Bill Shankly. What happens to all those fans who came religiously every 15 days to your particular sanctuary? Footballers can continue to win titles and millions, but there is no money that can match the indescribable excitement of celebrating a winning goal with your fans. Even the footballers themselves must have sensed it from their Instagram vantage points, miles away from the real world, where there are plenty of likes and hugs are lacking. LaLiga starts, but we cannot forget about the cornerstone of football called FANS. “This is very strange, everything is very ugly, there is no audience, there is no spirit. It's all very soulless, ”said Álvaro Cervera, Cádiz coach, after the first games after the COVID break. Cádiz, who will play for the 14th time in the First Division, is on their way to 17,500 subscribers (last year, in the Second Division, they had 16,000) without really knowing if they will be able to go to Carranza this season. This is the new football, which has things from the old football because the fan acquires a ticket to nowhere at the beginning of the season. Suddenly you dream of Europe and you end up in Second, like Espanyol. You renew your subscription every summer, when many Sundays in winter you say: "The following year I'll erase". The new and old football are still a leap of faith. Emotion. Delusion. Now more than ever. The First Division is a dream for those thousands of Cadistas fans, and for the remaining 19 fans. So just as in AS we say "Sport, I love you", we also embrace the pity for all those fans who are no longer there.

The idea of the employers when they restarted the competition last season was to start this campaign with 30% capacity in the stadiums until reaching 100% in January 2021. To date, the criteria of the Ministry of Health is to maintain the matches behind closed doors, taking into account the evolution of the disease. The closure of nightlife and the limitations of social gatherings would collide with the opening of doors in football. Against this background, clubs are inventing formulas to maintain their income and at the same time respond to the care of their fans. Perhaps the most romantic is the one adopted by the president of Getafe, Ángel Torres: "The 13,500 Getafe subscribers this season will have their season ticket for free next year in La Liga. We are not going to charge them. Let them know that they will not pay. nothing. My pocket pays for it, "he said in May. The blue season season ticket campaign for 2020-21 is called #PorVosotros. Villarreal, for example, has launched the # YoSíEstoy promotion in which former subscribers who renew their quota will have a 60% discount compared to last season's price (with a discount of up to 75% in the case of subscribers whose current employment situation goes through an ERTE). Barça, the club with the most subscribers, 85,000, has prices from 150 to 1,274 euros. Like most clubs, the entity chaired by Josep María Bartomeu offers the possibility of taking a temporary leave of absence, but the prices remain the same with the respective proportional refund for the matches that cannot be attended. A similar proposal is presented by Real Madrid, with 61,247 subscribers and prices from 245 to 2,024, which obtains 18% of its income from members and stadium, while 21% corresponds to television rights, according to the 2019-20 budget (apart would be the losses that this atypical preseason also generates without friendly fundraisers in all corners of the planet). Valencia, the seventh club with the most subscribers (40,000), adds 45% for television and 7.85% for subscribers. But in Eibar, 95% of its income comes from TV (€ 50.8M), while its 5,600 subscribers barely contribute 4% to the budget.

Goodbye to the field factor

Some teams took advantage of the break due to COVID to undertake reforms in their stadiums: Real Madrid, Osasuna, Levante, Valladolid, Eibar and Real Sociedad. But beyond the economic and emotional factor of the public issue, there is a competitive conditioner. The local and visiting factor is lost. In post-Covid LaLiga matches, in a virtual visitor classification there are two newly promoted in fifth position (Granada, with three wins and two draws) and sixth (Osasuna, with three wins, one draw and two losses), when the previous season the highest position of the three promoted in this virtual table was 10th (Valladolid), while the other two occupied the penultimate (Huesca) and last place (Rayo). Barça lost the public factor at home. The average number of spectators at the Camp Nou in the 2019-20 season was 73,588 spectators, the highest in LaLiga, but after the break he accused playing without his public. They became the fourth best venue (three wins, one draw and one loss), behind Atlético (four wins and one draw), Sevilla (four wins and two losses) and Real Madrid (six wins); when in fact the Barça team was the best home of the three previous seasons ahead of Atlético de Madrid.

"Antoine Griezmann, Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema, Joao Felix and Diego Costa. All among the three most powerful. Now are they top-level figures?", Olé was asked when Messi commanded the burofax to Barça announcing their intention not to continue next season. It was a direct 'jab' to the chin of LaLiga (the one that we said years ago was the best League in the world), which from 2009 to 2018 enjoyed the rivalry between Cristiano and Messi, which makes a sport great. in the style of Federer vs Nadal, Ali vs Fraizer Messi, Larry Bird vs Magic Johnson, Rossi vs Marquez or Prost vs Ayrton Senna. "The impact of Cristiano's departure was almost nil for the League, if Messi left, we would notice it a lot because he is the best player in the history of football," Javier Tebas said in RAC1 in June. That is why the employers released that statement defending Barça in the Messi case. We are facing the 17th year of the Argentine, but Tebas is already preparing the transition and the coming strategy: "Ansu Fati will be the franchise player of LaLiga" .

Not only do they take away young players from the Premier (Ferran Torres to City and Rodrigo to the recently promoted Leeds), but also the Bundesliga (Lucas), Serie A (Fabián Ruiz) or Ligue 1 (Pablo Sarabia). Easier to accept are departures to the Middle East (such as Banega or Cazorla) in search of a golden retirement, but we also have the feeling that they could have continued to polish LaLiga for another year or two without problems. Without Messi, the panorama would have painted in clubs. For example, in the UEFA dream team last year there were only two players from the Spanish championship (Messi and De Jong, taking into account that the main merits of the latter were with Ajax). In 2016, however, eight of the eleven players played for clubs in our country (Messi, Cristiano, Griezmann, Iniesta, Kroos, Modric, Ramos and Pique) and in 2015, seven (Messi, Neymar, Cristiano, James, Iniesta, Piqué and Ramos). And in the National Team, nine of the 24 players from Luis Enrique's last call-up play in foreign leagues (Kepa, De Gea, Eric García, Fabián Ruiz, Thiago Alcántara, Rodrigo Hernández, Dani Olmo, Adama Traoré and Ferran Torres) .

The problem is that Messi's almost goodbye causes a certain fragility of the clubs to keep their stars. Without going any further, the Uruguayan Luis Suárez could be another of the great casualties of Koeman's new Barça. And in all markets there are always siren songs from the Premier to Atlético's star, Jan Oblak. Now PSG and Arsenal are tempting Thomas. Saúl has always liked him at Old Trafford. So if Real Madrid, Barça and Atlético have a hard time retaining their stars, it is science fiction for the teams in the next caboose to keep great stars. Sevilla sold the past to their stars (Ben Yedder, Muriel and Sarabia), but they have maintained Spanish pride, conquering the Europa League, and leaving our League as the best competition in Europe in the UEFA ranking of the last five years. But Valencia, on the other hand, is a ruin because it is getting rid of its best players. And others, like Athletic, or Betis, even saw with good eyes the rain of millions by players like Kepa, Laporte or Fabián Ruiz. At the close of this special (the transfer market will close on October 5), LaLiga's investment in transfers (280 million euros) only exceeds the Bundesliga (205M €), while the Premier accumulates 773M €, Series A € 569 and Ligue 1 € 312M. Last year the trend was marked by the Premier (more than € 1,560M), Serie A (€ 1,410M), LaLiga (€ 1,300M), Bundesliga (€ 941M) and Ligue 1 (€ 837M) 444 444

The Federation (RFEF) approved the five changes in all First and Second League matches for the Championships beginning on September 12. Likewise, the RFEF set the maximum number of players summoned by each team and for each match at 23 footballers. In addition, all teams must inform LaLiga before the next day 18 the alternative stadium in which they will play their matches if theirs has to be closed for health reasons or for any other reason.

Likewise, to start a match, each team must appear and maintain during it at least seven players belonging to the first team, except as stipulated in the COVID clauses. If the team does not reach that number, the difference cannot be covered with players of another class or category and the referee will suspend the match, the disciplinary body adopting the appropriate resolution. If a match cannot be played as a result of events related to the coronavirus (unavailability of at least thirteen players between the first team and subsidiaries, impossibility of travel, closure of facilities 48 hours before the match ...), it must be postponed to a new one date

Starts on September 12 and ends on May 23 in Primera (with 20 teams). In the first of the 38 days there are three special matches, Real Madrid-Getafe, Barça-Elche and Atlético-Sevilla, especially since these matches have been postponed so that the six teams have more rest as they have had to compete in Europe or in the playoff. Atlético will play that game on January 12, 2021 and the other two will be in February or March. In addition, it is already known that the first Clásico will be on October 25 at the Camp Nou (April 11 the return leg) and the first Madrid derby will be in the Madrid field on December 13 (7-M the return) .

In this scenario, the first day will have only seven games in First. The same as the second day (September 19), when Real Madrid and Getafe were already incorporated, which fell in the eighth of the Champions League and Europa League respectively. It will not be until the third day, when Barcelona, Atlético, Seville and Elche rejoin the rest, when we have a weekend full of football that will soon be cut off by the first international stoppage of the national teams. Before that September 26, Sevilla will have to play in Budapest the final of the European Super Cup.

The calendar will have four of its interweekly days and will have a new break at Christmas from December 22 to 30 (until January 3 in Segunda) despite the fact that LaLiga, at first, wanted it to be played even on the 31st and had reserved in his sketch on December 27 in case, from now until then, a meeting is postponed due to force majeure. Another of the weekends that will not be like the usual ones will be that of January 16 and 17. Real Madrid, Barça, Real and Athletic will play the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia from the 13th, so their League matches that day (they will face each other (Barça-Real Sociedad and Real Madrid-Athletic) will move to 15 and December 16. The rest will play that weekend of January 17 as normal. Granada, if they play the Europa League playoff, would play against Osasuna on January 12.

On the weekend of April 17 there will be no League either. There, both the Federation and LaLiga, reached an agreement to set that Saturday the final of the Copa del Rey this season. The other final pending from the previous campaign, the one that Real and Athletic should have played at the Sevilla Olympic Stadium and which was postponed due to COVID-19, will be played earlier, even on a date that the RFEF must make public after the meeting of today from its Management Commission.

On Mondays and Fridays, suspended for the moment

The president of the Competition Committee, Carmen Pérez González, returned to deal on the 9th with a new conflict between LaLiga and the Federation and canceled what was going to be the opening match of the 2020-21 , a Granada-Athletic, set the day of the calendar draw for Friday the 11th, but which will ultimately be played on Saturday at 6:00 p.m., after Eibar-Celta, which opens the competition. The issue of the games on Fridays and Mondays is being prosecuted pending the hearing on October 6 in the Commercial Court with Judge Sánchez Magro, who must issue a sentence that ends a war lasting more than a year. Competition refused to hold matches on Friday and Monday because as there is no understanding between LaLiga and the RFEF, the only possible way to authorize it is through the OK of the Federation. The last two days of LaLiga, as usual but this season it has not been possible to comply with Deportivo-Fuenlabrada, will be with a unified schedule (Barça ends in Eibar, Madrid at home against Villarreal and Atlético in Valladolid). After the end of the championship will come the final of the Europa League (May 26 in Gdansk) and the Champions League (May 29 in Istanbul). Then it will be the turn of the Euro and the Olympic Games.

The evolution of the last seasons, endorsed in the past Champions and Europa League, announces the definitive imposition of a different paradigm. It is a time of high-paced teams, brave in pressure and constant in efforts. This reality does not prevent the variety of styles that are appreciated in the League. It is not a question of the tactical system —the 1-4-4-2 was the most used the previous year, almost 45% of the time—, but of game models that give a touch of distinction to the competition and are representatives of the different ways of understanding football.

The stability of Zidane

A against the current with what it was until very recently, Madrid won the last championship based on its defensive solidity and general commitment. The turn ordered by Zidane brought the block together, raised the pressure, improved the retreat and guarded its area. The title came more for what he did without the ball than what he did with the ball. The spine formed by Courtois, Varane, Ramos, Casemiro and Benzema was decisive. Although it is not enough for him in the Champions League, far from the European nobility, it is assumed that Madrid will persist in this idea.

Awaiting Hazard's awakening after the disappointment of his first season. The Belgian has to bring more creativity in positional attacks, a recurring deficit in this Madrid that only a superlative Benzema can solve. Not only can he live off the finesse of the Gaul, Vinicius's agitation and his power in transitions, where Asensio has a lot to say. The return of Odegaard can cause a new order in the core, along with the deployment of Valverde, although Modric and Kroos will always be necessary in a team that wants to be champion. Zidane has alternatives in the drawing, from the more classic 1-4-3-3 to the 1-4-4-2 in rhombus, but his greatest ambition is for Madrid to maintain its defensive reliability as a synonym of success.

The reconstruction of Koeman

The thunderous defeat in the Champions League against Bayern, the attempt to renew the squad and Messi's already aborted mutiny leave Barcelona in an unknown situation. Koeman has to assume a restructuring of a team that can no longer live from the past. The Dutch coach aspires to recover symptoms that one day defined Barça as a well-refined ball exit and a very high pressure that distressed the rivals. It is time for changes and the Barça team cannot be left behind.

Once he has stayed, Koeman's first goal focuses on the integration of Messi. The new Barça coach had been using a 1-4-2-3-1 in Holland, with a dynamic double pivot, open ends and a deployable midfielder. Messi will find his space as '10' or as a false nine complementing himself with Griezmann or the forward who is to come. Koeman likes that there are footballers who open the field. Dembélé and Ansu Fati are ideal players for your tactical idea, regardless of whether you bet on that 1-4-2-3-1 or a more classic 1-4-3-3. De Jong and Pjanic have enough cache to govern the core and players like Coutinho, Trinçao or the signing that arrives will offer rich alternatives. The security trio Ter Stegen-Piqué-Lenglet must also make a difference. The resurrection of Barça goes through looking at the game again, advancing his block, playing in the opposite field and providing coverage to the sides. From versatility and dynamism as the main sources. With Messi in front.

Atlético's credit

The word transition mediated Simeone's speech during the past campaign. The change of the old guard and the renewal of the staff excused an irregular performance from start to finish, although always competitive. A bolder cut ensemble was expected, preserving its consistency, but it lacked something. It was never a round team. He was blamed for his poor punch, but in many games his offensive production was not enough. While waiting for the arrival of a midfielder and a forward, Simeone must reinforce his disposition and exploit the talent of his squad.

The spotlights point to João Félix. The step forward that he starred in against Leipzig gives rise to think that he is already prepared to lead a small revolution at Atlético. It is so true that he did not win ownership throughout the year as he is an older player. Llorente's position after his revealing appearance as second striker, the contribution of Koke and Saúl and the performance of the full-backs are other decisive issues in the near future for the rojiblanco. Doubts also lie in his defense of the set piece and in knowing if Simeone is willing to open up to new tactical nuances. It is not about the 1-4-4-2 mantra, but about whether it bets on advancing the block and being more proactive in some contexts.

The rhythm of Sevilla

Spanish validity in Europe was vindicated through Sevilla. It was the only team capable of prevailing in this new football in a hurry. Monchi's imperishable sense of smell and Lopetegui's leadership on the bench have shaped a captivating project that will not see a ceiling this season if it maintains the path followed. Sevilla compete, play and do not forgive. With the 1-4-3-3 as the basic scheme, his game proposal transmits verticality, drive and order. Lopetegui focuses on the bands with wide-ranging wings, allows the massive arrival of players to the finishing zone and imprisons the rival with high positioning

Activation after loss and rapid recovery are inflexible axioms for the Basque coach. Banega's goodbye, for whom it seems impossible to find a replacement, even for Monchi, is a setback to be solved. Not even the exciting return of Rakitic will camouflage his absence in a Seville that is built from behind and breaks forward. Koundé and Diego Carlos - unrecognizable in the final phase of the Europa League - ensure the rear and Fernando will be the firewall in the rival contrasts. The eternal youth of Navas, the power of Ocampos, the left foot of Suso and the importance, beyond the goal, of De Jong are the best offensive symptom of a team with a vocation to triumph.

The old and the new

The coming League is a clear commitment to continuity at the tactical level. The suggestive roadmap of Imanol at Real Sociedad, the solidity of Athletic de Garitano, the direct and choral play of Diego Martínez's Granada or the abrasive and spirited strategy of Getafe and Eibar stand out in different ways, but all are effective. The moves will be lived on the benches with new technicians. Emery (Villarreal), Gracia (Valencia), Pellegrini (Betis) and Machín (Alavés) are the only new faces in the clubs that were already active in the competition last year.

It will be interesting to see how Emery can improve Villarreal, with the 1-4-4-2 that he is wearing in the preseason, without dissociating himself from Calleja's plan. At Betis it seems that Pellegrini intends to have more balance with a double pivot at 1-4-2-3-1 and at Alavés you can already see the stamp that Machín aspires to implant with his three center-backs and two lanes. Fewer certainties are noticed in a Valencia that undergoes enormous transformations and which Javi Gracia will have to rebuild during the competition itself. Of those promoted, waiting for Almirón to structure Elche, Huesca is expected to be faithful to Míchel's leading tactical system (1-4-3-3) and his daring personality, while Cádiz de Cervera will get results of his low block, transitions and set pieces.

Football is a changing sport, although its essence is the same. Just as the styles of play are changing (it has gone from the predominance of the tiqui-taca to box to box) the rules of football are also modifying and adapting to new demands. The IFAB undertook a large number of reforms to its regulations for last season, some of them creating great controversy. For this reason, for this new campaign, they have updated and modified to continue improving them. As is the case with hands.

At the criterion of when the hand should be whistled (voluntary, unnatural, arm at shoulder height or above and hands that generate a goal) and when not (the ball is played by a defender and hits his own hand, the arm is in natural position or the hand occurs being between the body and the point of support while looking for stability) two clarifications have been made. The first is to distinguish what is arm and what is shoulder. For this, it will be understood that if the ball hits an area higher than the player's armpit, it should not be punishable. Also, for this season it is emphasized that to sanction a fortuitous hand of the attacker will only entail a sanction if the action ends immediately in a goal or a goal manifest.

Other big news are related to penalties. Last season there were several cases in which the goalkeeper took the lead in a penalty shot (for a year it is enough that they have only one foot on the line at the time the attacker takes the shot) and when committing an offense he saw yellow. Something that scandalized the entire football world by considering excessive punishment. Therefore, from now on it will only be warned verbally in case of committing that infraction and it will be shown yellow if it repeatedly goes ahead ignoring the referee's warnings.

The second change in the rule related to maximum penalties is that the goalkeeper and the executor commit an offense at the same time. In this case, the attacker will be penalized. And finally, there is the variation in the yellows shown in the penalty shoot-outs. If a player saw yellow during regulation time or extra time and sees a second during that goal, he will not be sent off.

New rules that will be monitored not only from the field by the referee, but also from the VAR. This tool is consolidated in what will be its third season and with an increasingly high level of intervention so that no clear and manifest error escapes. Proof of this is the increase in interventions from one season to another: in 2018-19 there were 121 and in 2019-20, 156.

Photos from as.com
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