Two midfield variants
FC Barcelona started in midfield with Sergi Roberto, Arthur and Frenkie de Jong. It was relatively unclear who of the three would play the defensive part on the six and which two would find themselves on the eight positions. The question was relatively difficult to answer at the end. At times Roberto found himself in front of the defense again, sometimes Frenkie de Jong again, at times the Catalans also played situational a variant with two six.
This was due to a tremendous fluidity that Barca's midfield initially showed. Again and again, the players exchanged positions and were so very difficult to reach for the midfielder Celtas. So the midfielders were able to play the balls much more often and more fluently than was otherwise the case, sometimes directly via one-touch. A significant part of this was made by Lionel Messi, who repeatedly dropped into midfield.
With the addition of Sergio Busquets due to Nelson Semedo's injury and the associated transfer of Roberto to the right-back position that changed. Busquets took over the six-position now constant, while de Jong and Arthur clearly placed in the aft positions.
The game was now much more static, but also controlled. This is due to the much lower positioning of Busquets on the six, so that forwarded the ball on the two eight, who then played the leather as quickly as possible in the storm center or on the outside – another variant to avoid a midfield pressing. With continuous playing time Celta then retreated further and further into its own half, so that Barca could turn the ball more and more around the penalty area – a situation that is predestined for a clear, deeper ball distributor like Busquets.
To the game:
The defensive stability
At the same time Busquets' inclusion provided for a tremendous stability on the defensive, even if the Catalan was not the sole reason for it. The entire midfield worked very well against the ball, so most of the attacks of the guests did not even arrive in the dangerous zones. Besides the midfield, which was enormously active in this respect, the backers also did a good job. Above all, the two full-backs participated constantly strong in the counter-pressing and could sometimes even fall into the middle, to provide for the half-positions for the majority.
At the same time, the two center-backs moved out again and again to keep the number of Barca players in front of the penalty area constantly high – especially Umtiti was striking here. So the only Celta goal fell on this evening from a free kick, which one should not have given after an alleged Messi foul. Otherwise, the staid Galicier offensively did not accomplish anything – also because Barca defended much better and more active against the ball this evening.
Ousmane Dembele as an invigorating element
On the other side of the field, FC Barcelona was much less sovereign for a long time – there Ansu Fati, Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi started. While La Pulga, as always, was constantly in the center, initiating attacks on the opposing goal, the other two offensive forces were lost over most of their playing time. Griezmann usually stayed in the center of the attack, but he was unlikely to pose any danger. Fati, on the other hand, tried his luck on the left wing, but failed to prevail in most matches against his opponents.
At break, the youngster was replaced logically, for him Ousmane Dembele came into the game – and with him the offensive danger out of the game. Again and again, the French dribbled out his opponents, started dangerous runs over both outposts and seamlessly integrated into the combination game in the last third of the field.
He also almost scored a goal: Shortly after the start of the second half of the French dribbled out the back team Celtas and tamed the ball only shortly after the goal over. Dembele was also close to an assist, but his perfect cross in the 74th minute just missed the onrushing Messi. In any case, a performance on which Dembele can build in the next few weeks, because in this form, the French revived the often too static acting offensive game of the Catalans noticeably.
The player criticism: Messi outstanding, Griezmann and Fati invisible, Dembele makes hope