After months of pandemic pause to the beautiful game, FC Barcelona are hot to trot for a fixture against RCD Mallorca. Despite being close to relegation, we will scrutinize how RCD Mallorca can pose threats to the leaders of the league.
In this piece, we will overlook Barcelona’s attack, which is possibly the best in the league with Luis Suarez back from the injury. Our defense, however, has shown signs of fragility and Los Bermellones are more than capable of exploiting the Blaugrana back line.
Vicente Moreno fancies adaptive coaching, with his formations switching between 4-4-2 and 4-4-1-1 DM wide. Defensively, they produce solid concentration in the center with CBs and DM defending with width. Such would be a familiar sight against Barcelona with Quique Setien asking of players to press more aggressively. Statistically, Moreno has worked upon the best formation considering what he has on hand, but Barcelona should easily score three goals with available offensive resources. However, it cannot be confidently said that Barcelona will not suffer any replies.
To put the Mallorca attacker’s ratings into perspective, the graph below shows how they compare with Messi.
RCD Mallorca offense radar map looks rather feeble in comparison to Messi but these ratings will have their own periods of “sparks” depending on Barcelona’s mishaps, time of substitution and periodic discomfort. During such instances, a comparative graph of average, will not be sufficient for analysis but a range of values will be needed, which we would examine on post match analysis. Likelihood of a defensive mistake, in this case, is very low considering how they pose no real threat on the left and majority of the attack is centered in the middle with shadows on the right. Such a scenario gifts Semedo (preferred) or Roberto time to focus on offensive duties rather freely.
Ideally, Budimir is irreplacable. If Kubo starts, Chavarria can be his deadly substitution in the second half. Also, Cucho and Abdon can be perfect replacement to one another.
Based on various measures of statistics we have generalized ratings of each attackers of RCD Mallorca against every defenders of FC Barcelona. Needless to say, anything above the x=0 is relatively advantageous to RCD Mallorca and below x=0 is disadvantageous depending on its length from the axis.
Sergi Roberto : Defensively Okay but Has a Lot to Offer
Based on these numbers, Roberto has a lot to prove as a right back. Having said that, this would also be the right match to let him play because he can contribute to the attack more diversely considering how little threat we would expect on the right. Mallorca tend to concentrate themselves in centered narrow shapes leaving Barcelona plenty chances to exploit the wing. If the full backs are in full form, there is no doubt we will see a game favoring Barcelona with a huge goal difference. Even if Rakitic plays, his role should be to shift the ball to the wing considering how much space can be generated in the wider flank, while moving in the space created by misled center backs (because of magnetic Messi or Antoinne) whenever necessary.
Despite being defensively feeble relative to his other team mates, Roberto can and should link well with Rakitic/Arthur to create attacking opportunities. This was evident in the last match against Mallorca when the Catalan pocket knife and Croat strung 45 passes together. In 5-2 win for the Blaugrana with a hat-trick for Messi, Roberto and Messi completed 33 passes together, third most of the game for Barcelona after 35 passes played between Pique and Lenglet. Pique and Roberto also completed 24 passes together – fifth most for then home side.
Besides Budimir, Setien should focus on prodigy Kubo. Pace, once again, will be a factor that will suffocate Barcelona defense. In my opinion, they will try to silence Barcelona for the first half and Kubo will be brought earlier in the second when they need a spark against a tired defense. The only answer to a midfield as complicatedly beautiful as Barcelona’s is pace equipped with ability to create converging chances. Again, they will concentrate on the center but Kubo will bring his energy from the right, challenging Alba and Lenglet/Umtiti. If Lenglet was allowed to play (which he will not, because of suspension), it would have been prudent to substitute him with Umtiti because only then, in the event of Alba’s absence, we will have a complete defender who anticipates better but that is not a question now.
Should be an easy fixture for the Catalans and a good opportunity for the captain to extend his pichichi lead.