Luis Enrique’s side opted for a very direct approach, perhaps due to the poor condition of the pitch, perhaps due to the style of the opponent
Barcelona lacked its sparkly brilliance, but wasn’t troubled too much in the 1-3 win over Granada on Saturday afternoon. Luis Enrique’s side opted for a very direct approach, perhaps due to the poor condition of the pitch, perhaps due to the style of the opponent.
From early on it was clear that the condition of the pitch was rather poor, which was also recognized by players after the match. This made it difficult to circulate the ball quickly enough to create openings, and dribbling was also considerably harder as the ball didn’t move as smoothly as it could. In this respect, the match was a lot like Barcelona’s 0-2 win over Rayo Vallecano in the first half of the season, and the side’s response to the circumstances was also similar.
Barcelona often tried to play the ball behind the Granada defense line that sometimes played rather high up the pitch. Especially Luis Suárez was very active and made decisive runs behind the line ahead of all three goals scored by Barcelona. Below is an example: The Granada line is relatively high, Suárez identifies the space, makes a run, receives a pass and with a bit of luck, sets up the opening goal.
A similar pattern was repeated several times, and even midfielder Ivan Rakitic made some good runs forward in what was one of his best performances of the season. If there are two players who really benefit from the more direct style of play, perhaps they’re Rakitic and Suárez. In this particular match, Barcelona wasn’t brilliant and lacked control in the midfield, but did well to identify the space where the match was eventually won.
Last season Barcelona suffered a decisive 0-1 loss in the away match against Granada, and perhaps this is the sort of directness that would have been welcome in that match as well. Certainly Luis Enrique’s Barcelona doesn’t please everyone – it sometimes goes against the “typical” Barcelona style we’ve seen in the recent years – but it definitely knows how to adapt to the situation each match presents.