The best Powerful midfield Battle today in the Clasico The greatest competition in Spain is once again looming over us. In a game that could determine the title, Barcelona will face off against Real Madrid. Since their first meeting at the Camp Nou, both Ronald Koeman and Zinedine Zidane have turned their teams’ fortunes around. In La Liga, the Catalans have gone 19 games without losing. Simultaneously, the 13-time European Champions have recovered from a poor start to the season and now trail reigning Premier League champions Liverpool by two goals in the Champions League. Both teams have quickly closed the gap on the league’s early champions, Atletico Madrid, and the championship seems to be up for grabs.
Despite the excitement surrounding the title, there is no question that a few main fights will determine the outcome. The thought of Lionel Messi facing the Blancos defence or Karim Benzema facing the Blaugranas defence on the other end comes to mind, but the most important of these fights is the one in midfield, which will determine the game’s outcome. Real Madrid’s midfield, headed by Toni Kroos, put in a fantastic display on Tuesday, absolutely smothering Liverpool’s chances.
They were primarily responsible for holding the Merseyside team to zero shots in the first half and one shot on goal in the whole game. Without a question, Koeman must have been watching the game and trying to figure out how to stop the trio that has been the foundation of Zidane’s Real Madrid. Kroos, Luka Modric, and Casemiro have made a combined total of 971 appearances for Los Blancos. It’s no wonder, given that they have the perfect midfield pairing. Kroos is a natural passer with the ability to handle the game from long distances.
Modric, who is 35 years old, is still going strong and plays both ends of the field. Casemiro, who serves as a defensive shield, does all of the dirty work. Madrid also has Federico Valverde, who has the speed and dynamism that none of the other three players have. Valverde won the right to play with Modric for one of the central park venues based on his successes with Real Madrid last season. However, recent injury issues have forced him to sit out. Since regaining control of the team, Zidane has been relying more and more on his old midfielders, who have responded in kind. The Blancos’ midfield is without a doubt their most valuable commodity, capable of outplaying anybody on any given day. Koeman’s midfield, on the other hand, got off to a stuttering start.
The best Powerful midfield Battle today in the Clasico The Dutchman started with a 4-2-3-1 formation, which is his preferred formation for the national team. Still, by the time the season was halfway through, he could see that the Blaugranas couldn’t be treated the same way. In the 4-2-3-1, Koeman was unable to get the most out of his men. Philippe Coutinho faded after a strong start. Sergio Busquets was always caught out of line, and although De Jong was one of Barcelona’s best players, it was obvious that the Catalan club needed a direct, imaginative, and reliable midfielder. Furthermore, none of the midfielders demonstrated an ability to effectively combine with Messi. This is the point at which the Barcelona manager wanted to shake things up and give youth a chance. Barcelona have been flying high after he incorporated youngster Pedri into the team. He’s recently switched to a 3-4-3/4-3-3 formation, with Pedri and Busquets playing central midfield.
Frenkie de Jong begins as a centre-back but switches to midfield when necessary, as he did against Real Valladolid in the second half. The boss has entrusted the artistic job to the youngster Pedri, who has performed admirably. With a lot of pressure on his shoulders, the former Las Palmas defensive midfielder has displayed experience well beyond his years. He is often compared to Barcelona legend Iniesta, which represents not only his talent but also his consistency. With the addition of Pedri, de Jong and Busquets would be less involved in the artistic process.
When the adolescent performs the task well, they are able to take on more duties. Pedri played further up the field in the previous 4-3-3, while de Jong remained closer to the pivot Busquets. Now, the Dutchman seems to have switched to a 3-4-3 formation, with De Jong playing as a central centre-back who can also play as a midfield interior to create a 4-3-3 when necessary.
This shift in formations and positions also allows youngsters like Ilaix Moriba and Riqui Puig to showcase their abilities, which was not possible under Koeman’s previous 4-2-3-1 formation. This season, Koeman has sharpened and refined the Barcelona midfield, and they now seem to be a well-oiled unit in the Barcelona machine – an engine capable of competing with Real Madrid’s – which they were unable to do in the Clasico’s first leg.
The Numbers Game is a game where you have to think about new ways to use numbers.
The best Powerful midfield Battle today in the Clasico When it comes to imaginative statistics, all pairs of midfielders are in the upper echelon. First, we’ll look at the number of passes made in 90 minutes. These figures show how important Kroos and Busquets are to their squad, as they monitor the game from deep. Both the German and the Spaniard are seasoned heads who can find the right pass even when under pressure. Furthermore, they are both precise, completing over 90% of their passes in games on a regular basis. They determine the game’s ebb and flow, so having them under control is critical to winning games. Now we’ll look at both sets of midfielders’ shot-creating conduct every 90 minutes, as well as their non-penalty xG and xA. Toni Kroos sticks out once more. He is the set-piece taker for Los Blancos and is a master at it. Madrid has a lot of opportunities thanks to the Germans’ set pieces.
Furthermore, as shown by Vinicius Jr’s goal against Liverpool, he has the potential to detect a pass from afar. Giving him time on the ball is therefore dangerous. When it comes to Barcelona’s imaginative charge, it’s also clear that youngster Pedri is leading from the front. Barcelona’s unbeaten run in La Liga has been largely due to his link-up play with the Blaugrana forwards, especially Messi. He’s given the side the flourish and panache that Koeman so deeply desired. When it comes to direct contributions in the final third, Pedri is closely led by Dutch star de Jong, with seasoned head coach Busquets playing little to no part.
Next, we’ll look at the midfielders’ progressive carries every 90 minutes. Here, Frenkie de Jong sticks out. Since his Ajax days, his ability to hold the ball has been well established. More specifically, since de Jong was also under Koeman’s tutelage in the Dutch National team, he knows how to get the most out of said capacity. This ball-carrying ability is crucial to Barcelona’s ability to build out from the back, as he can get over the first line of opposition resistance and bring the ball forward easily. In this regard, Kroos and Modric share the Los Blancos’ responsibilities, as both have the technological skill and the ability to withstand pressure to fulfil this task.
Numbers on the defensive
Casemiro leads Barcelona’s defensive figures, with Pedri and Busquets sharing the position. First, we’ll look at the midfielders’ good pressures every 90 minutes. Pedri emerges victorious, with Busquets close behind. He leads Barcelona’s press from the front, which is critical for the Catalans to win the ball high up the ground. When compared to anyone like Coutinho, who averages just 2.74 effective pressures per 90, this is what sets him apart. Busquets is also critical, as he often wins the ball in the midfield rather than the final third. This means that if Barcelona’s first press is beaten by the opposition, the Spaniard will be there to assist in regaining possession of the ball. Casemiro and Toni Kroos share these responsibilities for Real Madrid.
The best Powerful midfield Battle today in the Clasico Though players like Pedri attempt to gain the ball high up the field, Kroos and Casemiro press more often in the centre and defensive thirds. This represents how Zidane sets up Madrid to press, with the midfielders retreating more frequently to assist the defence and the forwards leading the charge. Now we’ll look at how many tackles and steals both sets of midfielders have earned every 90 minutes. With 1.92 tackles earned per 90 and 1.92 interceptions per 90, Casemiro is the clear leader in both categories. Casemiro clearly plays as a central midfielder with little or no imaginative responsibilities. He is the obstacle Messi and his teammates must tackle in order to hit the Madrid defence.
The Brazilian midfielder is fantastic at filling gaps in the defensive third and is one of the main reasons Kroos and Modric are able to focus on their roles. Busquets and Pedri are once again in charge of the Garnet and Blue. Though Busquets’ positioning and ability to cover spaces that the opposition can manipulate are well-known, Pedri’s ability to act as a workhorse is underappreciated. One of the reasons Koeman has been able to put together a well-balanced midfield trio is Pedri’s ability to rush out and protect.
The best Powerful midfield Battle today in the Clasico Though Real Madrid’s midfield trio has been a big part of their success this season, Barcelona’s newly established trio is right there with them. For the Blaugranas, this is a must-win game, and if Koeman fails to shut down the Blancos midfield trio, his task will get even more complicated. Not only in this contest, but even in the rankings at the end of the season, the fight in midfield will determine who wins.
It will also determine which players the two clubs sign, with both clubs reportedly bidding for Norwegian wonderkid Erling Braut Haaland. A victory here may mean the end of the fight – something the Dutch boss, as well as Barcelona’s upper management, will keep in mind.