Three days on from our intense game against Celta on the weekend. Barça are chucked straight back into action tonight. In possibly and most probably the most important game of the season so far. Live from the Spotify Camp Nou, at 9pm Local time. Barça will be taking on Inter Milan in the return leg of the Champions League Group stage. In a must win game. Both Xavi and Pedri said it today, this game is like a final to us. We must go out and give absolutely everything we can to get a positive result. Inter Milan are expected to come to our home ground, playing an extremely defensive style of football. From minute 1 to minute 90, they’re going to be very difficult to break down. Even more than at the San Siro. Which means that we are going to have to figure out a way of breaking down the lowest block of them all. With a few tweaks to the lineup here and there, we have the profile of players to be able to do it. There’s expected to be an almost sold out stadium for tonight’s game. There needs to be an incredible atmosphere showing support for Xavi and his team. They’re going to need every single bit of it. We must turn up for the occasion and give our all. That’s all we can ask.
Lessons from our last game:
When you talk about the last game of Barça against Inter Milan, the painful thing that still sticks with you is the blatant robbery. You can say whatever you want about the overall performance, but at the end of the day, we were robbed. A clear goal and and clear penalty was denied and as a result has put us in a difficult position in the table. During that game, in the first 20 minutes of it, we started very well. Fell off near the end of the half and picked it up again later in the second. Fact is, we need to be full throttle for the whole game tonight. Don’t give Inter any chances at all. We need to also shoot more from outside the box. In that last game, we became too predictable with our crosses from wide. Whereas they got their goal from a fortunate long range shot. We have the players in this team to be able to score from range. We just need to be more daring and confident with our attempts. Lastly, we need to take advantage of the size of the Camp Nou. We must stretch Inter out from their defensive block as much as possible. Instead of making them feel comfortable in defence, we need to be putting a lot of pressure on them. Forcing them into errors.
In defence I have full confidence that we won’t be seeing a back four with three left backs in it. Maybe at most two. But no more than that. We are suffering from injuries at the moment. And unfortunately they’ve all come in our defence. Kounde isn’t fit for tonight’s game, Araujo is out for the foreseeable and Christensen is not available either. For any coach in world football, having 3 of your best centre backs out in such an intense month is difficult. When it comes to the left back position however, Balde has to start. No question about it. Marcos Alonso played last week and gave us nothing. His recovery pace is a massive liability, so we need to see Balde at left back for tonight’s game. In the centre, we are down to our bare bones here. We’ve only got two available centre backs. So I expect both Eric and Pique to start. With Roberto filling in at RB.
In the midfield, this is where things get a little more interesting. There have been reports circling that Xavi may decide to go with four midfielders instead of 3. For me, that could mean that Gavi could very well fit in as the inverted left winger. Or we could see Frenkie starting in a deeper defensive position without the ball. And then progressing further up field with the ball. It’s all speculation, but it’s brilliant to have Frenkie back in the team. Aswell as Franck Kessie who received the medical green light too!
The need to score
And finally, the attack. Now, last week we went with Raphinha on the left and Dembele on the right. Both had pretty quiet games, but Raphinha was ineffective playing on the left. He just can’t play there. It’s not his fault of course, it’s not his natural position. But we should only be playing him on the right. For tonight’s game, Barça are going to need to stretch Inter Milan around as much as possible. So logically you would want to go with two natural wingers to help do that. But I think we should be doing something similar to what we did three days ago
. On the right, you choose either Dembele or Raphinha. Not both. And on the left, Someone like Ansu or Ferran. A player that is inverted. They naturally cut inside and play as an almost second striker. This wouldn’t just give us more space for the left back to run in behind. But we’ll also be giving extra support to Lewandowski. Which is absolutely crucial. We need to ensure that we’re directly involving him in the game. Instead of doing what we did last week, where we left him against 3 defenders for the whole 90 minutes. For me, we have to go with that sort of setup. We saw against Celta, especially in that first half where we performed really well. Having a profile like Ferran or Ansu in the left just gives us a lot more balance. During the best games of last season, that’s how we set up. And I don’t think we should have abandoned it. Overall, it makes us a lot less predictable.
Roberto- Eric- Pique- Balde
Pedri- Busi- Frenkie
Dembele- Lewandowski- Ansu ( Ferran or Gavi)