The pass masters secret

Barcelona, Arsenal & Swansea are all teams who play their own variety of keep ball. Whether it’s 4-5-1, or the Barcelona super formation with a fake number 9, all of these teams never relent when it comes down to maintaining possession.

Why then, if they all build their teams around possession in the same way, are Barcelona far superior to these sides and with that every other team in the world.

Two words can explain this. CUTTING EDGE.

When Spain played England earlier this year, they played with many of the same team which tore apart Premier League Champions Manchester United, so surely playing in the same style as Barcelona, with a Tiki-Taka rhythm was going to see of the one dimensional Three Lions. They were wrong, even with a striker with the ability of David Villa leading the line the cutting edge was there.

Teams who play with strong defensive midfielders, such as QPR as was shown when Swansea faced them earlier this week, as Alejandro Faurlin was able to break up their play and dictate the pace. With Spain they ran into the colossus that is Phil Jones, aided by bruiser Jack Rodwell.

Barcelona though have a cutting edge which can stop strong teams, who defend in numbers. His name is surprisingly one you will be guessing already. Lionel Messi. We all know his class, he unlocks defences; he makes teams look like they are standing still and most of all he makes Barcelona the winning side they are.

Swansea’s cutting edge this season is Danny Graham, who while working 100% for the team and having a great record in the Championship does not provide the cutting edge necessary to turn 65% possession into a 3-0 victory. Swansea now may be happy with a lack of an edge, but Arsenal’s possession game and reputation means that the lack of an edge can see them dominating games, but leaving with a draw, as they did against Wolves this week.

Barcelona while being the ideal model for possession football have stuttered this season. They have been held to 4 draws this season, which has seen them fall behind front runners Real Madrid, teams are beginning to suss out the style and physicality, stubbornness and having 10 men behind the ball are coming out trumps at times.

Can teams who play this ‘beautiful’ football change it up, or will physicality and the good ole’ British 4-4-2 prevail. Good news for Blackburn/Steve Kean, bad news for football. 

John Fernandez