Football

How to beat Barca

MAN CITY MUST DROP 4-4-2 FORMATION

Former Man City striker and ex-Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn says it's a mistake for Manuel Pellegrini to play with two strikers in a 4-4-2 formation, reported Sky Sports.

"They're getting found out by playing with two strikers against the best teams in Europe," said Quinn.

"It's all right playing two strikers when you're dominating the ball and you're on the front foot all the time.

"But if that's not happening, then you need to be a different team."

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville wrote in his Telegraph column: "City are unbalanced when they play 4-4-2 with Yaya Toure, David Silva, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero in the starting line-up.

"They leave themselves exposed too often. The option is a change of system."

NEUTRALISE THEIR POSSESSION GAME

Last month, Malaga won 1-0 at Barcelona in La Liga despite enjoying just 27 per cent of possession. The more telling statistic was that both teams had 11 shots on goal.

Malaga coach Javi Garcia said: "You have to control the game through good defensive work, not through possession, because you cannot do that against Barcelona.

"The player who wins the ball back must play it forward immediately, to bypass their initial press. The forwards must be waiting, to offer themselves in the spaces we know will be there if their fullbacks push forward.

"If you do not break and hold the ball against Barcelona, you never get out. They have possession, possession, possession and, in the end, you are exhausted - and then you are in trouble."

PRESS HIGH, DEFEND 
AS A TEAM

In Barcelona's loss to PSG last September, they recorded their lowest duel success rate (43 per cent) and fewest successful passes in their own half (195) in the Champions League this season.

"If City want to approach the game like PSG did, then that is the way to unsettle Barcelona," said Sky Sports pundit Guillem Balague.

"There was pressure high and, when they couldn't recover the ball early, PSG tracked back as a team.

"Everybody defended very compact with two lines of four and then they had very fast players up front to counter-attack and use the space that Barca leave behind their defence.

"That is the way. They have to get at the Barca players and have a clear idea of what they want to do."

HIT BARCA ON THE COUNTER

Barcelona's attacking approach can make them vulnerable, something Rubin Kazan exploited in beating Pep Guardiola's team at the Nou Camp back in 2009.

"Barcelona like to use the whole pitch," said Rubin boss Kurban Berdyev.

"Their fullbacks tend to play wide and leave some space in the centre. We were ready to organise our counter-attack through that area, so we waited for the right opportunity."

- Wire Services.

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