Barca’s 3-4-3 Gamble

Catalan Cafu – Sergi Roberto

17-October-2016

Last game of FC Barcelona against Deportivo de La Coruña which they won by 4 – 0 was a tactical genius  and a very brave step by the Luis Enrique. He stated Barca with the formation of 3-4-3, with Arda Turan and Lucas Digne playing in Right Mid and Left Mid positions. In the starting 25mins of the game it was clearly observed that Barca players were not comfortable with the formation and they were not able to move the ball quickly as usual. But the first  two goals of Rafinha within 36th minutes changed the mentality of Barca players. With Messi on bench, Rafinha was playing in right wing position. It was a balanced formation with correct player at correct position. This gamble by Luis Enrique is because of injury to Sergi Roberto, who became the most trusted player of Luis Enrique and the regular starter in the team, which no-one even thought of two seasons back.

Sergi Roberto was in the verge of leaving FC Barcelona in starting of 2014-15 season after departure of Gerardo Martino along with Cesc Fàbregas. Sergi Roberto, a youth product who joined La Masia at the age of 14 and spend three years from 2006 to 2009 then a year in Barcelona B team, making a debut for the first team on November 10th, 2010. After spending four years with Barcelona first team with 61 appearance and 4 goals. He didn’t earn the trust factor from 3 managers of FC Barcelona and decided to leave for an EPL team. With arrival of Luis Enrique, who convinced Sergi Roberto to stay in Barcelona. On 23rd August 2015 in the game against Athletic Bilbao in San Mamés Finally the moment arrived for Sergi Roberto when Dani Alves got injured in 19th minute of first half. After that Sergi Roberto never looked back and not only in right back but he played in many different positions. Even in Left back in two consecutive game against Athletic Bilbao when Jordi Alba got injured in Camp Nou and next again in Copa Del Rey  against Bilbao in San Mamés Stadium. A Spanish paper, Mundo Deportivo even published a front page article picturing 11 Sergi Roberto in the Barca team. His best performances in 2015-16 season was in El Clasico game in Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. When he played as a Right Wing replacing Messi who was injured. Giving a class assist to Luis Suarez for the first goal. Second, coming from bench in 72mins and scoring equaliser in 80th min. in UEFA Champions League game against Bayer Leverkusen.

Comparison from Dani Alves

Dani Alves was quick and had better co-ordination with Messi and crossing ability. But Sergio Roberto has good passing quality with a mid fielder vision, strong in holding ball and keeping possession, interception which is natural to him. And, he is getting quicker n quicker day by day with constant improvement in his crossing ability.

In summer of 2016, there were lots of talk, is he good enough for the direct replacement for the legendary Dani Alves who joined Italian giant Juventus F.C. and should Barcelona go for a conventional right back like Arsenal’s Héctor Bellerín, a La Masia product. But Enrique believed in Sergi Roberto. Though Aleix Vidal looked good in FC Barcelona’s pre-season games. On the very first game of La Liga against Real Betis, here comes Sergi Roberto and again a class performance with two assists and Barca won the game with 6-2 score line.

In few days time Barca will play UEFA champions league game at home against Pep Guardiola’s side Manchester City. It will be a good test for Sergi Roberto who will face quick, more agile and skilful players like Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne on the leftwing side of Manchester City.

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