Why FC Barcelona And Xavi Started To Use Four Midfielders

First team coach Xavi Hernandez has found the winning formula for his FC Barcelona squad.

Whether Barca are scraping their way to 1-0 wins without particularly playing well, or blowing away the opposition as seen in the 3-1 demolition of Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final in Riyadh, the switch to four midfielders has proven a masterstroke for the Blaugrana.

Not only have they picked up their first piece of silverware under their former legendary midfielder, but the Catalans also nurse a five point lead at the La Liga summit and are on course for a record-breaking 100 point title-winning campaign with half that tally midway through the season.

Xavi’s four midfielders are Gavi, Pedri, Frenkie de Jong, and Sergio Busquets. Though Pedri started as the false left winger, Gavi has taken up that role in past games and used it to the best effect by scoring a goal and providing two assists in the mentioned Super Cup final.

As Javier Gascon at Mundo Deportivo points out, the 4-4-2 is particularly popular with Xavi as it gives his team control of the game and dominance in the opposition’s half.

It gets the best out of Frenkie de Jong, who dropped a big hint to his coach by telling Movistar that he is most comfortable in the system at the base of the midfield. The Dutchman can form a double pivot with captain Busquets there and put his ball-winning and playmaking skills on show, and takes a backseat while Pedri and Gavi are more advanced.

Pedri is scoring more in the system as seen with the only goal of the game winner against Getafe and Girona in the last two games.

Against Real Betis, in a 2-1 win on the road on Wednesday, he had at least three chances that were denied by the hosts’ goalkeeper Rui Silva.

While Gavi gets forward himself and is also a goalscoring threat, his positioning also means that the system can change to a 4-3-3 when he drops back and allows the lightning-fast full back Alejandro Balde charge down the left wing.

This was seen when Frenkie de Jong took a free kick to release the youth academy product at the Estadio Benito Villamarin, with his assist for Raphinha allowing the Brazilian to open the scoring and make it 1-0.

On Sunday, Xavi may opt for the same approach as Barca receive Betis’ struggling cross city rivals at Camp Nou.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomsanderson/2023/02/03/why-fc-barcelona-and-xavi-started-to-use-four-midfieldersespecially-for-big-games/