Gerardo Martino to save Barcelona from becoming “slaves to their system”
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has welcomed the tactical changes brought on by manager Gerardo Martino. Pique insists the tweaks made by the new Camp Nou manager is another step towards reaching world domination. The Spain international believes Barcelona had become “slaves to their system” and Martino’s predecessors Josep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova.
Guardiola and Vilanova stuck to a textbook form of “tiki-taka” during their reigns as manager of the club. Guardiola introduced, developed and perfected the system from 2008-2009 season till 2011-2012. Vilanova remained at the club for only one season, but he was given the reigns because he was well-versed in tiki-taka. During this time period Barcelona won 14 of the 20 trophies they targeted.
Seeing that many teams had learnt to counter tiki-taka, Barcelona management finally decided to bring their new manager from out of their ranks. Perhaps, Martino’s ability to improvise and evolve existing tactics was another reason behind his appointment. Martino has been clever about respecting Barcelona’s legacy, especially Vilanova, who left the club because of cancer treatment.
In an interview to Gazzetta dello Sport, Pique insisted Barcelona were in need of having more tactical options.
“We played the last few years with homegrown coaches, first Pep and then Tito, and maybe we ended up exasperating our style of play to the extent that we found ourselves slaves to that system, that style,” Pique said.
“Now that Tata, who comes from outside the club, has arrived, and who shares the same ideas of football, which are based on possession, he is, however, showing us different options.”
Barcelona’s performances against teams that have adopted a counter-attacking system or show versatility in their formations has been quite poor. During the past 18 months Barcelona have faced defeats to teams such as Chelsea, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Celtic.
Pique believes Barcelona are correcting many things such as playing the occasional long ball, an approach which was ruled out by Guardiola and Vilanova. Pique believes when playing against a high-pressure line such tactics could be of great use.
“It's very positive because it gives us variety,” Pique added. “When we are being pressed, sending the ball long a few times is not negative; it helps you mix things up, giving you oxygen and preventing us from getting crushed with no way out.
“We have started pressing far up the field again, winning back possession in the final third of the field and, from there, it's far easier to create chances without having to build up from right at the back, particularly against sides who close up a lot.”