A 'new' engine room

After the 4-2-3-1 attempt, Koeman has recovered the center of the field inserting Pedri and overtaking De Jong, who interprets the unchecks of a Messi who comes to receive.


Although Koeman insists that it is not a question of systems, but of players and game interpretation, certain changes have done Barça good, a team that historically has been built from the center of the field and had lost it in recent times due to the marches of Xavi and Iniesta and the wear of Rakitic and Sergio Busquets. Koeman came up with a clear idea. Play with a 4-2-3-1 that would protect Busquets (or replace it) and, in general, the whole team. The supposed idea was that Pjanic and De Jong would occupy the double pivot, but it was evident from the beginning that the blond man from Zaandam was not convinced by the Bosnian in that position and that Busquets would be non-negotiable as long as the physicist supported him.

Koeman's posture of maintaining the 4-2-3-1 seemed firm and immovable, but the results were not yet coming and, in the face of so much irregularity, and especially after the 2-1 in Cádiz and the 0-3 against Juventus, the coach decided to be more flexible. Your decisions have worked. The 4-2-3-1 has turned to 4-3-3. With three important details. Busquets is still the anchor player. It does not give a great display but its position is the barça thermometer. If Busquets is well placed, the team responds. Pedri, who started the season playing midfielder or thrown to a band, has gotten into the engine room. In addition to a tremendous talent, he has an excellent physical base that allows him to do kilometers throughout the game. Along with Messi, he has become the mastermind of all offensive operations. At times, it even gives the feeling that he sets the 'tempo' of the game.

But the most surprising change has been that of Frenkie de Jong. He is the player who passes the most at Barça and throughout LaLiga (1297). However, the last three games have seen him do things that he had only taught in a trickle in his first year and a half. Against Huesca he connected with Messi in the goal that meant in the victory of Barça; In San Mamés he had faith to draw an uncheck in which Messi believed and ended in Pedri's goal. And in Granada he deployed more total football. He was about to score a memorable goal with a start from midfield, and he invented a spectacular pass into space in the first half. Details that allow identifying the player who caused a sensation at Ajax.

That Koeman believes in that midfield is directly related to the minutes he has used them. De Jong exceeds 1,500 minutes in LaLiga and Busquets and Pedri exceed 1,100. The substitute theorists have played very little. Pjanic has played 388 minutes; Aleñá left with just 46 minutes and Riqui barely had 22 minutes. Koeman waits when before the incorporation of Sergi Roberto. With Dest settled in the team, the Reus player could mix games on the wing with others in the midfield to give rest to the essentials. For the moment, that engine room (Busquets-DeJong-Pedri) is immovable.

Photos from as.com
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