10 May 2012

Defensive reshuffles from Mestalla to the Calderón

In three of Barça’s most recent finals they’ve faced a similar situation to the one they’ll have to deal with at the Vicente Calderon this month – a weakened defence and a need to shuffle the players available at the back.

With Carles Puyol and Éric Abidal both unavailable for the Cup Final, Guardiola can only call on four defenders-Alves, Piqué, Mascherano and Adriano for the game, though he also has a strong trio of B team youngsters he can bring in -Montoya, Bartra and Muniesa and it’s certainly nothing new for the team to go into a Final with a supposedly weakened back line, as the situations outlined below show:

Valencia 2009: Alves-Piqué-Touré-Puyol

For Pep Guardiola’s first Final in charge - against Bilbao at Mestalla in the 2009 Spanish Cup- he was without the suspended Abidal and the injured Marquez and Milito. The boss then decided to put Puyol into the left back slot and play Touré Yaya at centre half. It worked well enough too, with the Ivorian getting a key goal to round off a brilliant performance that ended in a 4-1 win.

Rome 2009: Puyol-Piqué-Touré-Sylvinho

Barça’s Champions League semi final win over Chelsea came at a cost, as Alves and Abidal were both suspended for the Rome final against Manchester United, whilst Marquez and Milito were also unavailable through injury. This time, Guardiola now played Puyol at right back, with Toure again partnering Piqué and Sylvinho at left back. It was another successful tactical move as Barça took the treble with a 2-0 win.

Wembley 2011: Alves-Piqué-Mascherano-Abidal

Carle Puyol was also missing with a knee injury when Barça travelled to Wembley for last season’s Champions League final. This time it wasn’t Touré Yaya , but another ex-midfielder Javier Mascherano who started alongside Gerard Piqué at the heart of the defence. Although Puyol finally did make a late appearance, it was Abidal who in a memorable gesture, lifted the Cup after the 3-1 win. (via FCBarcelona.com)