Our time at La Masia offered many insights, but three stood out significantly. First was the use of FCB’s bench. Players are rotated throughout the game in 3 to 5 minute waves. Like hockey shifts, an entire group would exit and enter the court at once. Starters and the bench played roughly equal minutes. In American youth futsal, starters often log heavy minutes and the resulting fatigue results in poor decision making. In tournaments this minute imbalance is compounded. In contrast, the Barça players were fresh and expected to go all out in their limited minutes. This created dynamic, aggressive defending and a relentless swirl of movement on offense. The need to conserve energy simply didn’t exist.
Gift number two appeared in the form of the 4-0 formation. Spaced within 10 yards or so of each other, the players formed a condensed, offset 2-2 of sorts. The goal was to create a triangle on one side of the court. Once the the defense was punctured through this triangle, the weak side, back post runner then became the target. Of course connecting passes in these tight spaces is easier said than done, but this is what makes Barça, well, Barça. Coach Martin, FCB’s head coach at u18 made it look all so easy on a strategy board, however, I can only imagine the years of training needed to bring these ideas to life.
In addition to bringing home half of the FCB gift shop, our boys also brought back the flick. The flick often occurred on parallel passes down the sideline to avoid a defender’s outstretched leg. The lofting of the ball also popped up on 3v2 breaks to again avoid a defender’s extended foot stretching into the passing lane. At this weekend’s USFF Northwest Regional in San Jose, our boys used the flick time and again. Sub patterns, formations, and flicks. Not a bad day in the FCB gift shop.