Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Barcelona’s 4-2 Build-up and 3-4-3 Diamond

July 30, 2023 — Barcelona’s four-man midfield shifts from a 4-2 sub-structure in the build-up to a 3-4-3 diamond once they break into the middle third.

Figure 1.1 - Barcelona's 4-2 build-up sub-structure, with a box midfield.

They use a double pivot of Frankie De Jong and new signing Oriol Romeu in the buildup while forming a back-four.

The wingers Ousmane Dembélé and Álex Balde provided the width, with Balde responsible for moving back to defend at left-back out of possession.

Pedri and Ilkay Gündoğan stayed in the half-spaces, forming a box midfield with the double pivot.

Figure 2.1 - Barcelona’s 3-4-3 diamond in the middle third.

Once they broke into the middle third and beyond, Frankie De Jong would move forward ahead of Oriol Romeu, in-line with Ilkay Gündoğan, with Pedri furthest forward. The diamond is formed.

Figure 3.1 - 3-4-3 box
Figure 3.2 - 3-4-3 box

All four midfielders would rotate and switch sides to fill empty spaces and maintain their triangles. The triangles are everything, Xavi is obsessed with them.

Figure 4.1 - 3-4-3 diamond
Figure 4.2 - 3-4-3 diamond
Figure 5.1 - Updated Barcelona 3-4-3 diamond depth chart.

This is the blueprint for the upcoming season, and not only for Barcelona. This change to a 3-4-3 diamond is something I theorized would happen. It’s the logical outcome for the profiles at Barcelona’s disposal. Barcelona are always first to make a change, and then the rest eventually follow.

Figure 6.1 - Frankie De Jong dropping deep to receive with Oriol Romeu offset in the right half-space.

Frankie De Jong gets to drop deep and receive on the left side. Oriol Romeu would benefit from a double pivot partner.

Ilkay Gündoğan is better further forward in the left half-space and Pedri is better on the right.

Xavi has been quoted before saying he wants to play with four midfielders:

“Playing with four midfielders gave us order, more possession. It’s an approach we have, but it’s not the only one.”

They have the ability to be flexible with their shape in midfield. Start in a box and rotate into a diamond.

It was beautiful to watch, and it was the most attractive form of football that I’ve seen Barcelona play in several years.

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