Real Mallorca hosted Barcelona in the 28th round of La Liga, and this is the first meeting for both teams after a three-month hiatus due to the outbreak of the virus inside Spain.
Barcelona achieved a great victory at Mallorca with a score 4-0, which means that the team is coming back strongly after the stoppage, which greatly affected the fitness of players through poor preparations and lack of opportunity to combine the technical framework and players inside the pitch.
Real Mallorca (4-4-1-1): Manolo Reina; Álex Pozo, M. Valjent, Antonio Raillo, Joan Sastre; Salva Sevilla, Marc Pedraza, T. Kubo, Cucho Hernández, Dani Rodríguez; A. Budimir.
Barcelona (4-3-3): M. ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Gerard Piqué, R. Araújo, Jordi Alba; A. Vidal, Sergio Busquets, F. de Jong; L. Messi, A. Griezmann, M. Braithwaite.
With the appearance of young Ronald Araujo in the Barcelona defensive line after the coach hinted that Samuel Umtiti was not ready, and with the presence of the Danish newcomer Martin Braithwaite, the Catalans had a couple of newcomers in their lineup.
Besides Luis Suarez being on the bench after the absence of many months due to a knee injury, he received a share of participation during the second half.
On the other side, there were some reshuffles in the backline as well, especially in the full-back department and with the inclusion of Takefusa Kubo, the former Barcelona youngster, in the starting XI.
Barcelona in possession
Barcelona coach Quique Setién decided to play closer to a 4-3-3 with Lionel Messi on the right side of the attack in the empty space and Antoine Griezmann in the centre of the forward line with Martin Braithwaite on the left side, but we have to note the positioning of Arturo Vidal.
It seems that Barcelona were intending to score early by altering the sides of play so that Vidal moves next to Griezmann to form a 4-4-2 formation, and this can be seen during the first goal, which we will discuss later.
Here we see Barcelona in their usual build-up phase of play on the left side, led by Jordi Alba, and here he carries the ball with an attempt by Martin Braithwaite to burst into the space behind the right-back of Real Mallorca.
Also note the presence of Frenkie de Jong between the right-wing and midfielder in the opposing team, and Vidal in the half-spaces.
As soon as the ball moves forward to Alba, Vidal assumes the position of a striker and runs into the box to receive the cross in the space between the left-back of the Mallorca team and the heart of the defence to the first goal.
Real Mallorca coach Vicente Moreno chose in the first 30 minutes of the match to play in the zonal-marking with advancing the defence line to a mid-block but with almost no pressure on the ball-carrier, as we will see in the next picture.
Here we can see the stage of build-up the game from Barcelona again with no direct pressure, either on the ball-carrier nor are Mallorca effective at trying to cut the passes of the ball by pressing on other players.
This explains why Barcelona felt very comfortable in the match, especially in the first third of it because of the lack of pressure on the ball bearer, or even positioning properly from Mallorca in the team’s own half, as we will see in the next example.
And if we ask why this is possible, it is due to the instructions of the Barcelona coach to lead his team to move vertically and horizontally on the pitch to lose their markers constantly.
Poor concentration with little focus was the most prominent characteristic of Real Mallorca with their coach Vincent Moreno, especially with the lack of pressure we already talked about. We will notice the poor individual performances of the players on the ground in the pressure operation in Barcelona’s second goal.
Here we note the centralisation of Real Mallorca’s defence when the ball was with Jordi Alba on the left side with space between the players of the defence line. Mallorca weren’t good enough at plugging those holes and Barcelona constantly found ways to exploit it from the wide areas, as we can see below.
Here we see the Real Mallorca defensive players rush to pressure Lionel Messi, leaving the space for the duo Martin Braithwaite and Arturo Vidal to go to the ball and the former was able to score. Here we must ask why the Mallorca coach chose to follow the high defence without pressing directly on the ball holder as it allowed Barcelona to send the ball in the first place.
Vincent Moreno in the first half in most of his periods chose to play with a high defensive line without pressing the ball bearer, which caused space to appear in the half-spaces and the area behind the two pillars, which Barcelona exploited, especially by relying on the left side through which 41% of Barcelona attacks flowed during the match.
Mallorca in possession
Real Mallorca played in a way that played closer to the form 4-4-1-1, the reliance was more on defence and counters, but they tried a few times to build the game gradually from back to front, especially through the Japanese right-wing Take Kubo.
Trying to accelerate the play on the wings when owning the ball from Real Mallorca was the method used by coach Vincent Moreno, as we will see during the next examples.
Here we see the ball in possession of Dani Rodriguez in the first third of the pitch, with an attempt to reverse the play to become dangerous in the defensive third of Barcelona especially that the guests are present in the defensive third of Mallorca with a large number of players – seven from Barcelona, which means numerical superiority in that snapshot of the Mallorca team with nine players, with Kubo on the right flank.
Here we see Kubo’s move until he reached the Barcelona penalty area, and individually put himself in a favourable position to play, and here we can discover that Kubo’s movement is one of the most important weapons of the Real Mallorca team.
Real Mallorca team tried a lot to get the ball and build the game steadily in the second half, taking advantage of the defensive lapses in Barcelona’s backline and entering the final third with Kubo and Dani Rodriguez close to the area to receive the crosses, as we can see during the next shot.
Here we can see the ball with Joan Sastre on the left side in an attempt to expand the pitch, with Barcelona being well-positioned defending while narrowing the space between the defensive line and the midfield. And every player from Mallorca is met by a player from Barcelona to make the movement in a horizontal manner for the players difficult. But also note that Kubo was stationed behind Jordi Alba.
Here we see that the only correct move for the Mallorca offensive team came by Take Kubo on the right side in an attempt to penetrate the space behind the Barcelona defence and receive the ball vertically from his teammate, but the correct move from Jordi Alba inside made him get in the way.
Barcelona tried to defend with great intelligence when they lost the ball and tried to do it quickly immediately after losing it but when the move does not succeed, the Catalans would retract to their 4-4-2 defensive shape quickly. From there, they would defend from the first third in front of their goal with strong pressure on the ball holder and by closing the pass lanes in front of the opponent.
Real Mallorca team managed to pass 310 correct balls from 378 and we can see their passing network down below.
Here we can see that most of the passes that are found in the middle third of the field by 47% and there are 18% in the first third defence, the team does not depend much on the two central defenders to start the build-up, but they play directly to the midfielders, Cucho Hernández and Dani Rodríguez especially.
Second Half with different ideas
At the beginning of the second half, Real Mallorca’s coach Vincent Moreno decided to change the ideas, by pressing with a man-to-man system throughout the pitch in the build-up phase of play from Barcelona in the first third, as we will note in the next example.
Here we see when the ball was with Ter Stegen, the Real Mallorca team advanced by pressure and every player from the team besieged a player from Barcelona, to make matters difficult to receive the ball in the stage of build-up play and forced him to play the vertical ball, which is what happened.
Here we see that the pressure style succeeded and Mallorca regained the ball and it’s now with right-back Álex Pozo and playing a deep grounded pass behind the Barcelona defence.
Real Mallorca decided to apply pressure to the ball bearer since the attack began for Barcelona in the defensive third, with defensive presence when the ball reaches the middle third. The team would become more compact without the ball if Barcelona progressed down the pitch, as we will see in the next example.
Here we can see Gerard Pique rise to the middle in possession of the ball, and we can see all Mallorca players in their area, 10 players, in the first third to break numerical superiority, especially with individual differences in favour of Barcelona.
Good positioning of Mallorca at those times made Barcelona return the ball back towards the defensive line, and here we find that Mallorca restored the idea of pressing a man to a man as we can see in this shot, to make things difficult for Barcelona again if he decides to penetrate the defence with the forward passes.
Barcelona found it difficult in the second half in ideas for penetration, but it was relying on the individual skills that Lionel Messi had in passing the balls vertically, as we will see in the next example.
Here we find the ball in possession of Jordi Alba, with Lionel Messi in the middle circle with Mallorca players stationed closer to the 4-3-3 structure to try to cover most of the playing areas. And it seems that freedom of movement for Messi gave opportunities to Barcelona in the final third of the pitch. But there is no one putting pressure on the Argentine even though he appears to be the player through whom the attacks of the Catalan team pass to to facilitate the penetration of opponents.
Here we see after Jordi Alba’s pass to teammate De Jong, he decided to go behind the opponent’s defence, which was done with a vertical pass from Lionel Messi to the final third of the pitch.
The match occurred with tactical fluctuations, and each coach tried to use his cards to come out with the possible gains, but the Barcelona players edged their hosts out with their coach’s ideas, either by high pressure when without the possession of the ball or when losing the ball and trying to cut it by pressing the ball holder.
We also tried to see in this tactical analysis that Mallorca had some weaknesses in the defensive stages while trying to use the flanks to attack.
Barcelona managed to win and make it difficult for Real Madrid to catch up, who are second in the league standings, but only trail by two points.