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Gracias Pep? Tactical Mistakes Meant Guardiola’s Exit Can Only Benefit Barcelona

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Days have passed since FC Barcelona were eliminated from the Champions League by Chelsea FC. In that time this writer has come full circle in his impression of a man whose tenure has also, come full circle at Barcelona. Pep Guardiola announced this past week that he will no longer be Barcelona’s manager in the coming season and in this writer’s opinion, Gracias Pep should not be the general feeling, instead it should be good riddance.

Although in the eyes of many Barcelona fans, Pep Guardiola has been an exceptional manager who brought unprecedented glory to the club, this writer feels that Pep Guardiola in fact has been well short of spectacular and attributes his success over four seasons more to his players that to the man’s tactical genius. No game served to expose more of Peps flaws as manger than the games against Chelsea.

Pep Guardiola has shown that he is unable to learn from past mistakes. Chelsea was not the first club to play Guardiola defensively. Inter in 2010 managed to win a Champions League semi-final in similar circumstances so the fact that Guardiola has no answer for what was the same plan proves he is not a manager that learns from mistakes. Guardiola made both errors in planning and horrendous tactical errors that cost him a tie that should have been won.

Errors in planning are basically not anticipation the game plan your opponent will utilize. All logic would dictate that if Chelsea were going to run a defensive game over two legs Pep Guardiola could not afford Barca to concede any simple goals in either. Meaning that he had to hope that his best men in attack could score, and, put in his best defense so as to ensure that he has his best chance at not conceding any goals.

Why Guardiola played a 3-4-3 instead of his usual formation is unfounded. It is also the choosing of this formation that demonstrated that Guardiola simply had no answer to the defensive game Chelsea had planned. It showed that Pep didn’t learn from the past and that in terms of trying to beat a very defensive team, he was still a novice. That he didn’t expect, meaning he hasn’t learned.

You think that a man who plays over 90% of his games in a 4-3-3 would stick to a tried and tested method in such a game, but he didn’t and it backfired. In both games he committed too many players forward and exposed his already weakened back-line (Due to injuries of Abidal and Pique) to even more danger. This was done by taking out that extra defender that would ensure greater security and allowed Chelsea easy counters through the flanks, which they used to great effect to score two of their 3 goals.

Another mistake committed by Guardiola is that he did not attempt to correct the toothless attack Barcelona displayed throughout the tie. He exacerbated the problem by continuing to show confidence in players that didn’t merit it.

Every manager has players he considered battle hardened, his veteran that he trusts even when they are not playing well, to get him results. Why Pep Guardiola didn’t trust Pedro Rodriguez to form the attacking trident with Messi and Alexis, the same Pedro that scored 2 goals this weekend, was an idiotic move.

Instead, Pep chose to trust in the likes on Issac Cuenca and Cristian Tello, both of which have just 1 season at the top level. Throughout both legs both Cuenca and Tello were terrible. Bullied, hurrayed off the ball, unable to get the best of Ashley Cole, unable to put a decent shot on goal, and continually being wasteful.

How Guardiola did not see this wasn’t working is unimaginable. Why Pep would not trust Pedro over these two rookies is also a mystery. Why Pep chose to gamble in such an important game no one knows, but stupid it was, and the gamble he lost. Pedro is clearly a player that on his worst day is still dangerous, he can still score a goal, and he can still cause trouble.

Why he trusted the inexperience of Tello and Cuenca is unknown, but it played a part in costing him the qualification since Guardiola never gave his attack the weapons necessary to have a maximum opportunity to score.

In essence Guardiola’s failure is full. It starts by picking a formation that is weak defensively against a counter-attacking team. It weakened a fragile defense further. It then progresses to wasting one of his precious attacking spots on players that frankly, did nothing throughout the whole tie. He thus also severely weakened his chances of scoring against a hunkered down side and increased his chances of getting scored on. Both happened, and Barca are out of the CL and Pep is out of Barca.

Gracis Pep? Thanks for what? The legacy he leaves of Barca is not one that is spectacular when looking at other managers that have had to do with less.

Frank Rijkaard once defeated a Chelsea at the height of its power with a less impressive squad than Guardiola has ever had at his disposal. Yet Rijkaard managed what Guardiola never did, a comprehensive victory over the Blues. This is even though Guardiola’s squad is man for man, superior to the Dutchman’s. Guardiola had Messi along with what is the core of the Spanish national team against what is arguably the most weakened Chelsea side in years.

The fact that Guardiola will always be remembered as the man that lost with the best team to a team that was weaker but with a better tactical setup will forever tarnish his record. He is no genius, he was kept in the tie by his players, but as a manger he failed them with such poor tactic choices. Namely, his 3-4-3 did not utilize the best his Barca squad had to offer. He weakened his defense further, and wasted a slot in attack throughout this tie by having faith in inexperienced canteranos.

Gracias Pep, is not how Barca fans should feel. This man is paid to win and deliver trophies, Gracias Pep? For loosing with the best squad in this clubs’ history in such an uneventful way is blasphemy.

Written by Jose Avila – you can follow him (and provide feedback) on Twitter.

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Comments (17)

  1. Mate…. You definitely right !!!! A good manager should always have a solution… We lost against Chelsea bcs of his tactics…hope Tito won’t be the same………. Go barca…. Thanks for the players , without them pep would have won nothing

  2. pep guardiolas reply against ultra defensive teams was david villa…after the loss against inter pep bought villa and they won the next champions league…but this season villa got injured and that increases the weight on messi…pedro at his best is a dangerous man.but anybody who watches football can say he lacks confident….since you said pep was not good at tactics..ask mourinjho…madrid got a side almost as good as barca .but still in his two years mourinho only managed to win two trophies….barca has a very small squad.their first eleven is best but they have a very week bench strength…so this season pep guardiola is short of weapons…..pep won 6 trophies in his first year…and mourinho only won only 2 in his two seasons with his 400m £ team….so…. dont make pathetic assumptions because either you hate pep or because you are dissappointed in barcas champions league exit…..and also if you think that anyone can win with this team…xavi iniesta puyol and all others didnt enjoy this much success with other coaches….and the rest of the team are assembled by pep himself…so do take the credit away from him from making this team …

    • This guy has blown your ridiculous article out of the water! ^^

    • Thank you Riyu. My thoughts exactly.

      I still cannot fu*king believe that there are some so called Barca fans who undermine the achievements of Pep. If you dint know, even Pep admitted that he has nothing new to offer to the team and hence he is stepping down. Now, any human being in the world would accept a handsome 8 mil euros per year to work irrespective of whether he loves the job or not. Pep dint want to continue because he felt that he would spoil the team if he continues. For that one reason alone, we should keep a statue for Pep. the 3-4-3 was also Pep’s answer to bus breaking teams. The only flaw that I see was why he dint start Pedro; that could be because of a million reasons that happen behind the screens. So, to say good riddance Pep is nothing short of outrageous to any Barca fan, leave alone this sad writer.

      And FYI to all those who say Pep is nothing without Messi. Pep created this goal scoring machine Messi. Messi never touched 20 goals per season before that. Please get your facts right and put them in the right place.

  3. Jose Avila, this article by you was biased, how many teams that depended against this barca side, recently, atiletico Madrid, Milan, Madrid at Santiago, etc, all of them were clearly beaten by same guardiola. In football this things happen sometimes is not the strongest that always won the battle. Having say that pedro’s 1st season at Barcelona was the same process tello and ceunca followed a risk was taken against pedro more than that of ceunca and tello and it pays and decision to use both of them in semi final of CL and crucial match against madrid was purely technical. Ceunca was the person that assist the goal scored by Sergio at nou camp. And in case of rijkaard beating Chelsea with less resource than guardiola’s teams your reasons were not acceptable by me cos Chelsea at that time choose to attack, but today they prepared to depend so they are two different games entirely. Pls let me know your feedback.

  4. Indeed, one needs to add a few more things like the taboo that over reliance on any one player, even Messi, is a problem. Without Villa, Barcelona’s game has become too centralized, hard to adapt to different opponents, and so predictable that I have lost the desire to watch. I do hope for a different Barcelona next season, one with Villa, but also one without the strategy with one key player.

  5. You are right but Cuenca is bettef than Pedro.Only one last match will not specify Pedro is a fantastic player bcos Even Del Boeque didnt pick Pedro to Euro 2012.Pedro suppose to be sod or loan ,Pep did not use Cuenca appropritely bcos as Cuenca assist the equaliser suppose not to be substituted for Tello bcos Cuenca may simply assist anothwr goal at home to Chelsea.There no match that Cuenca played full game that fcbarca drew or loose.Inappropriate of using Cuenca by Pep leads to draw that is if he was substiruted and Pedro didnt perform well.But not only Pep suppose to leave but Tito and some players .such as Xavi.Pedro.Affelay.Keita.Andriano.Pique Waka~Waka and sign a new coach that will manage the team properly so that we can no more even give advice or criticise.Suchas Marcelo Bielsa.Then sign players such as Bale.RvP.Hulk.Lius Suarez .ArsenalSong or Yaya.Vertonghen as LB.David Luiz and David Alaba but not Alba.The problem with fcbarca is also they only want Spanish.And they are not top class players.Nobody will say Iniesta .Busquets.are not topclass but sign any top class anywhere bcos Mou is very top.

  6. Cuenca ix not sellfish to scre by himself but Cueca assists in all the matches he played as a winger.I doubt that Tito will be able to manage this team bcos he is together with Pep all this draws and lose happened.Tito suppose to may be stay only as assistance but not the new coach..Marcelo Bielsa is the anwer.I forsee no change basically and fear things will continue like that bcos of no responsible President and Managent staffs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Fcbarca needs a Great manager who is Reknown throughout the world.I am an economist but our economic president dont want to sign top class players while fcbarca is the second richest club in the world.

  8. Sorry to say mate but this is very poor analysis. It is at best superficial (not really analytical) and at worst disingenuous.
    I will simply point out that the number of goal opportunities created in both legs by Barcelona are enough proof that there was nothing wrong with the tactical setup put out by Guardiola.
    In the end the responsibility has to fall on the players themselves for missing so many chances. Guardiola has always emphasized high risk high reward in his time at the helm and the results are here for all to see. Has he made some mistakes/miscalculations? of course! Some are inexcusable, but without a doubt I would say that his tenure was exemplary. His success is enshrined in the history of the game and revisionist writing like this poor article can’t change that fact!

    • Yes it was superficial because I can’t go in depth on one page. But it got my point across, 3-4-3 formation, once Ramires got past the midfield, he burnt the lone defenders with speed, and was directly involved in 2 goals. It’s a weak formation, excellent for a counter attacking team to exploit.

      And I don’t know what managers you watch, but to put in or leave players that keeps missing sitters without a reshuffle to remedy the problem is a poor choice.

      The bulk of Guardiola’s trophies (6) came in his premier season when no one could challenge Barca’s new style. The same in 2011 when all Barca had to get through was RM and then play a United in the final that didn’t play defensive. However, every season he was challenged by extremely defensive top flight squads, the trophy ratio went down. In 2010 when Inter beat Barca he lost half of his possible pot, this season with Real and Chelsea he’s down to 1. Just a trend.

  9. Oh comon! you guys are over-reacting too much.
    Barca played well though not very best as they usually play. Some key players like Cesc, Alexis, Xavi and Messi failed to convert glorious opportunities on number of occasions and that’s only costs us a game.
    And please don’t admire ‘Parking a Bus’ tactic anymore. Its an Anti-Football tactic and must be condemned for the good of the game.

  10. barca played like brazil of romaldo.attack is the best defence. the team only lacked luck this year.

  11. Barca has been weakened by the lack of planing and fear to spend on valuable players especially world clas defenders. Instead of buying a defender to replace Abidal, they brought in 2 attackers last year. Keita is also underused for unknown reasons.

  12. Great article. Who watch La Liga every week, know that Barca play boring football. Same tactic everytime which is effective (most of the time) since you have the best playmakers in the world – Xavi / Iniesta. Then you have Messi whom one-to-one is a killer.

    When these players fail, then Barca loose. They have no plab B, no ideas. Lets play the boring passing ball around until we find a space. When we find samehow a space we pass the ball. But we keep go merry go round even back to Valdes if necessary until we find that space to pass the ball through. Pretty boring.

    What is certain is that Barca are on the decline with Puyol and Xavi (their backbone) getting older now. Messi alone can’t win.

    On the other hand Real Madrid have a yound team with many options on the bench too. They indeed won La Liga in style.

    • I thnk your analysis is flawed,barca were able to score 114 goals thru ths soccer u call boring n was also the team that conceeded the least amount of goals plus Valdes recording the highest numba of clean sheets.managing 91pnts is nowhere near decline,more than all league winners in other countries.Madrid jst stepped up their game this season well above Barca.Guardiola’s tactics are tried n tested ones.Evidently,barca were plaqued with injuries this season with only messi being the injury free playa,without injuries barca wld have had a vry decent bench in Fabregas,mascherano,,adriano,afellay,Cuenca n tello.With the crop of players madrid have,its smh an under achievement,won la liga in style yes bt I can bet that was a 1 off

  13. You’re being a bit too harsh. If Messi had scored on that missed penalty, the game would have ended differently, and Barca would be playing in the final. No one would be criticizing them. They would be seen as the great team that beat an ultra defensive Chelsea while missing a lot of chances, instead of the “has been” team that was outplayed. You don’t blame the coach if his best players decided to all hit the post and miss horribly all at once.