It was a battle royale between a special manager and a special team and the special manager won out 3 to 1. My curiosity was piqued to see how an individual can have that much impact on so many players. This is my analysis of what exactly happened.
Mourinho understood football/soccer as a position-and-numbers game. Barcelona and other teams take it to be a possession game. Thus, they are playing different games in fact. Most other teams want to feel like over-capitalized startups: the more money, the better. The longer you keep the ball, the better. However, the truth is borrowing more than you need does never good, and similarly, just keeping the ball for the sake of keeping it does no good. Mourinho proudly said after the match: "We gave the ball away". His players let Barcelona keep the ball as much as they like.
Threats Neutralized1. Barcelona is feared for its passing game
------ 1. Cut off their supply line to their front men.
------ 2. Stay in your positions. Let them play their passing game in harmless areas.
---------- Software designers/architects will be reminded by Barcelona of systems where objects call each other a lot but do noting else. e.g Ken Thomson in Coders at Work
---------- Business people will be reminded by Barcelona of paper-pushing company cultures.
2. Lionel Messi
------ 1. Just hold your ground. Avoid premature commitment and tackles. Let him make his moves first.
------ 2. Don't give him any chance for free kicks.
Your Own Attacks1. Destroy their positions by pressing high. Win back the ball, the possession at the front with the intent to attack. Not merely for possession.
2. Exploit any positional mistakes.
------ 1. Barcelona's defensive weaknesses on the flanks.
------ 2. Direct balls over Barcelona's high defensive lines, to your own fast strikers.
3. Creating numerical supremacy during your own attacks.
I do recommend All The Way Jose for a nice read. You will be inspired to see how a mere translator for coaches transformed himself into an assistant coach and eventually into a world-famous manager of the world-famous football clubs.
on May 5, 2010