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Three measures Barcelona can take to stop Real Madrid’s newly-signed Mbappe



Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

It has been an exhausting few months for Barcelona and their fans, with the team seemingly not prepared well enough to compete in Spain, let alone in Europe.

The second-leg against PSG was a disaster for the club, and the season ended with Real Madrid winning the league with a whopping 95 points and then the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund.

And if that was not enough, Madrid have only gone on to confirm the signing of Kylian Mbappe on a free transfer after his six-year tenure at Paris Saint-Germain.

The Frenchman is widely regarded as the best player on the planet right now, alongside none other than Vinicius Jr and Jude Bellingham, who are already a crucial part of this Madrid side.

Barcelona will have to focus on the long-term properly to combat this Madrid super team, but it would probably start with El Clasico on the pitch.

So how do the Catalans pitch up against Mbappe when they eventually face him?

1. A deeper line

Over the last several seasons it has become clear that Real Madrid have made the most use of Barcelona’s high-line system and exploited it using the lines of Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo, among others.

And their new coach, Hansi Flick, is infamously known for playing absurdly high lines. However, that will not run against this Madrid side.

Hansi Flick’s high line defense with Bayern Munich (Courtesy The Coaches’ Voice)

Flick must be pragmatic, use a much more balanced system – defensively -, and play a deeper line compared to previous years in an attempt not to give into Madrid’s counter-attack strategies.

2. A balanced midfield

One of Barcelona’s big problems this season was the lack of a holding midfielder in the team. In fact, after Gavi’s injury, the team lacked a serious ball-winner in the center of the park.

That made the team’s defense a lot more vulnerable on the counter. With nobody cutting passing lanes or going in to win balls, most midfielders could hit Barcelona on transitions with a single pass.

Barcelona should pursue a proper defensive midfield signing in the summer, if they have the money, and get someone who can work tirelessly for the team defensively as part of the midfield.

And while Toni Kroos is gone, Madrid still have players capable of pulling Hollywood passes to Mbappe and co.

Someone like Amadou Onana, for example, would be ideal. Joshua Kimmich, on the other hand, is not much of a defender, and would only add the defensive burden on the side.

3. The right-back quota

For the last few years, Barcelona have been planning El Clasicos with one keen eye on Vinicius Jr on the left wing.

Ronald Araujo has done an incredible job on several occasions to keep him quiet, but not consistently. However, next season, Barcelona will need someone who can defend space and man very well.

With both Vinicius Jr and Mbappe on the team, Carlo Ancelotti will have the privilege of shuffling things around as much as he wants, with both players capable of playing through the center as well.

Having Araujo play on the right will not do the trick anymore. They will need the Uruguayan through the center to defend transitions.

Jules Kounde is certainly an option. He proved against Napoli, and the first-leg against PSG that he can defend space and deal with one-vs-ones against tricky wingers.

Joao Cancelo, on the other hand, would be a unwise choice. He is often competent with individual battles, but cannot defend space to save his life.

On the slight contrary, Barcelona will have Julian Araujo back with the team for next season. The Mexican did well in both aspects defensively for Las Palmas last season, and should be a contender, at least over Cancelo.

Alejandro Balde could be the wild card in this situation, as well. The Spaniard has put in a few shifts as a right-back despite being a left-back by trade. He does brilliantly to fall back, is superb in isolated situations, and reads space superbly.

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