Copa del Rey preview: Barça vs L’Hospitalet

Things are definitely changing. The international press has been pushing the idea of a revolution in football since Barça’s impressive display in Sunday’s Club World Cup final. The Santos coach Muricy Ramalho’s comments that Barça played a 3-7-0 formation have added to the idea that something new is happening in the game. However, despite our obvious joy at becoming World Champions again, if we look at things calmly we can see that the current success of Barça is based on ideas that have been around for quite some time.

The tactical formation that so many are scratching their heads about is the one Guardiola played in so many times under Johan Cruyff, three at the back and the withdrawn centre forward were quite normal in the pre-Romario Dream Team with Laudrup usually the player allowed to drift and swap positions. Guardiola has added things, the pressing game is better and the approach to things such as diet is probably even more professional now but our current success is not based on anything new, it is the result of years of believing in a way of playing that has allowed so many young players to grow up learning to play in the Barça way. These things need patience as Luis Enrique is discovering at Italy though the signs are there that if he is given time he will build a very good team at Roma.

So what’s changing then? Well, tomorrow night we play a second leg Copa del Rey match with Second Division B side L’Hospitalet. For many years these second leg cup games against lower opposition were generally a bit of a yawn.  A few years ago these were games where we got to see the expensive signings who’d flopped turn out to remind us just how poor they were. However, under Pep Guardiola the attitude to these games is different. Last season we were treated to a 5-1 win over Ceuta which was the game where Thiago Alcantara really showed Camp Nou what he is capable of for the first time, while the year before that we gave another decent display to beat Cultura Leonesa 5-0.

And then earlier this month in a seemingly meaningless Champions League match with Bate Borisov, we had the opportunity to witness a thoroughly enjoyable game thanks to the up-and-coming generation with the talent of Rafinho, Deulofeu, Montoya, Bartra, Sergi Roberto among others. This week Martin Montoya, who today signed until 2014, trained with the first team along with Oier, Muniesa, Cuenca, Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha and Tello, so these players will probably be those chosen to fill in for Keita, Abidal and the South American players who have all been allowed to begin their Christmas holidays early.

So it might not be Santos or Manchester United, but the game should still be enjoyable and it offers a good chance to see the stars of the future. In case you had forgotten we won the first leg 0-1 thanks to a scorcher from Andres Iniesta.

Possible starting XI: Pinto; Montoya, Piqué, Fontás, Muniesa; Dos Santos, Busquets, Sergi Roberto; Cuenca, Rafinha, Pedro.

My prediction: Barça 4 L’Hospitalet 0

Kick off 10pm local time

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6 Responses to Copa del Rey preview: Barça vs L’Hospitalet

  1. barcacentralroger says:

    Lovely lead in – the press has certainly picked up on the Barca formula that is now being emulated across the globe and Pep has come good with the 3-4-3 (although remembering Valencia, it is not the formation for all occasions!)

    Nic, you have Keita in your starting line up. Otherwise, I’d expect Iniesta to start and maybe Busquets also… We’re only 0-1 up and even though we’re at home, I’d expect us to start slightly stronger, get some goals and then make substitutions. This is not a meaningless Champions League group game and we do not want some terrible turns of fortune to knock us out the third most important competition this year.

  2. ope says:

    thought keita was already on holiday?

  3. barcacentralnic says:

    Thanks for pointing out my mistake with Keita. Rectified now.

  4. FCB-Parbo says:

    If our babies can beat Bate, then I’m confident that they will get this job done too. They will surprise us even more.

    Big up Barca!!!!!!!

  5. Edward says:

    I believe what we are doing is different than our conventional 3-4-3.

    What has struck me is our ability to seamlessly switch between systems. This allows us to adapt within each match. The recent El Clasico is a great example; we started with a 4-3-3 (back four of Abidal, Puyol, Pique, Alves) and the game turned when we switched to a 3-4-3 (Abidal, Puyol, Pique). However, the big surprise was the team’s ability to switch back to the 4-3-3, but a different 4-3-3 (Abidal, Busquets, Pique, Puyol)! This gave us the strengths we needed during the match when we needed them, without relying upon substitutions.

    I’m impressed with the fluidity we can switch between these systems and with a variety of compositions from the same 11. I thought this was the genius of El Clasico and based on their performance believe they have much room to improve! Lastly, our players’ versatility and ability to switch between positions allows for this, big ups to: Alves, Busi, Thiago, Iniesta, Messi, Puyol, Abidal, Adriano, Monster Masche, Keita

    Great article!

  6. Canuck Cule says:

    Always a great read. Well done all year Nic! I look forward to pre and post match analysis in 2012.

    Really wish Afellay was here for a game like this but watching the kids is just as exciting as watching the men. I love the way they play with a lead. Hope we score early and bring out the tricks infront of what I hope to be at least a half full Nou Camp.

    We are spoiled! Best time ever to be a Cule.


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