BARCELONA

Setién adds tactical nuances to his Barcelona plans

The return of Suárez, the utilisation of five subs and some of the tactical nuances Setién is planning for Barcelona when football returns.

Setién adds tactical nuances to his Barcelona plans
Miguel Ruiz EFE

Barcelona's tactics board will not be the same as it was before the pandemic took football away. Setién and his technical staff had added wrinkles into their instruction manual over the break while making the players watch football to disconnect and stay clued in. The original plan brought from the manager straight from his house in Cantabria faced some early scrutiny against Ibiza in the Copa del Rey and Valencia. It consisted of a strange 3-1-4-2.

Setién did not have the players on hand to install his preferred tactics but assued that he would return to them when he could. The Barça boss switched to a 4-3-3, as deployed under Ernesto Valverde last season (Valverde played a 4-4-2 in his first season) and with better results.

Things will change when LaLiga restarts. Not just because of the exhaustive analysis he and his team have done of the last 12 games played. Luis Suárez, who was ruled out for the remainder of the season before the coronavirus change our plans, is back in the fold. And the Uruguayan offers a lot to Barcelona not least the scoring of goals and taking the burden off Messi.

He offers tactical caveats also. Setién has always liked dynamic attackers who can hold up the ball and give support runners a chance to get involved and give his team's defenders a chance to catch their breath. Suárez is also a beast when it comes to applying pressure and that is one of the manager's obsessions in order to recover the ball quickly. The re-introduction of Suárez will mean Griezmann will have to move again but the French attacker has grown accustomed to playing wherever he is needed for the team this year.

Setién's tactical plans post-pandemic lockdown

Setién has also studied how best to use the five subs he will be allowed to make when football returns. It's a double-edge sword. On one side, it could allow Barcelona to keep their energy and maintain high pressure throughout the game. But with give changes, you also run the risk of breaking up the flow of the game, lost continuity and the connections between players. It won't be easy from the start.

Another thing that won't be easy, however, when football returns is communication. Setién's message is important and getting it across in big groups is not possible. He has thrown out the idea of meeting in a big cinema to ensure he had everyone's attention and that distance was still kept. "It will be a preseason for just a few days," he said. "There will be unknowns. In preseason, the friendlies serve to help with tactical aspects. We won't be able to see each other in meetings. We will have to keep distance. We can do them outside, or we can meet in a cinema where we can project the images or they won't be able to see the things we have prepared for them."

And Setién has plenty of tactical nuances planned for Barcelona when they return.