How to beat Barcelona? That has been one of the questions of the summer (or even of the last couple of season) and will be asked countless times this season. In the 2011 UEFA Super Cup, despite losing 0-2, FC Porto showed us how Barca can be neutralised.
OK, Porto actually lost the game, but there were some promising signs throughout the game.
The game finished 2-0 to Barcelona, with Barca having 9 shots, 5 on target, to Porto’s 8 shots, 2 on target. However, Porto were reduced to 10 men in the 86th minute with the score still 1-0, and then had another man sent off on 90 minutes. At that point, Barca had managed 7 shots, with 3 on target. The first goal also was a bit misfortunate (despite in part being caused by the Barca press), with Fredy Guarin passing the ball towards Sapunaru, who didnt anticipate the pass and missed the ball, which then rolled on to Leo Messi, who was 8 yards behind the defence and rounded the keeper to slot away.
There are two general views to playing Barca (or pretty much any team for that matter) – drop off and sit deep, or push on and press them. Porto took the second option here which largely worked quite well.
Before the first goal on 38 minutes, Barca had only had 2 shots, both off target (although it is fair to say they could have scored at least one – getting in behind the high Porto line both occasions).
Porto prevented Barca entering their defensive third for 12 minutes, from 16:45 on the clock until 28:20.
There were plenty of positives to take from the display of FC Porto, and here I will look at how they attempted to neutralise Barca and how they looked to attack them, how this differed to Man Utd’s attempt in last seasons Champions League final, and then a general look at how different formations faired against Barca last season.