Tactical Analysis: FC Barcelona Femení

By Hernán Romero Carpio

30-June-2021 on Analysis

7 minute read

Saying that FC Barcelona’s Women’s Team have had a good year would be a bit of an understatement. Winners of Spain’s Female Premier Division, the Queen’s Cup and the UEFA Women’s Champions League, their success this year has been unprecedented.


In this article, Hernán Romero Carpio takes a closer look at the games and tactics of one of Europe’s most successful teams during the past season...

4-3-3 Formation

Under the typical Catalan ideology, the team, led by Spaniard Lluís Cortés, stood out throughout the 20-21 campaign when playing the club’s characteristic positional game.


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From the beginning of the season, they stuck with the 4-3-3 formation, deploying a defensive line of four, three in midfield, one centre forward and two wingers. The tactic was clear, they wanted to dominate through superiority at the back and breadth and depth of the wingers.


The Build Up


Against most domestic rivals, Barca built from the back without much pressure from their opponents. In European competitions, this pressure was much more evident.


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But in both scenarios, the build up was usually the same, short passes out from the goalkeeper, Sandra Paños to one of the central defenders with the wing backs positioning themselves wide in line with the central midfielder, ready to push forward.


The long game was also an option which, although used sparingly, came in useful in certain situations.


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Triangles: An Important Aspect of the Game


One of the most important aspects of the Catalan game was the creation of triangulations to create superiority in order to progress. The positioning of the players in this manner, especially in midfield, allowed them to be more combative and, thus, more effective.


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Keeping passing options open with great positioning was one of the more noticeable strengths of Cortés’ women. They kept passing lines clear throughout the League, Cup and Champions events they were involved in.


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Wingers and Wing Backs: Creating Imbalance


Barcelona’s width and depth, provided by incorporating the wing backs into the attack, provided many problems for opposition defenses.

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Right-back Marta Torrejón was a key player in the offensive game, pushing forward and occupying inside positions in the opposition area, providing many assists. 


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On the forward wings, Lieke Martens and Caroline Hansen were generally superior in 1-on-1 situations, the Dutch women on the left wing and the Norweigan on the right.


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Both proved to be decisive in the last third. In Martens’ case, making cutting runs into the centre for a shot on goal and, in Hansen’s, beating her man and delivering long crosses into the area.


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Jennifer Hermoso: Spearheading the Attack


Barcelona have one of the best players in the world at their disposable. Jennifer Hermoso proved to be a decisive element in the Catalan team.


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The Madrilenian player held the front line as the only striker, the key to both attack and recovery. Hermoso exploited spaces, breaking free from markers in the centre of the field.


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Another of Jennifer’s strengths was her vulture-like poaching ability in the opposition’s box, pouncing on rebounds and defensive errors. Hermoso the season as the Premier League’s top scorer with 31 goals. 


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High Pressure After Loss


When not on the ball, Cortés’ team applied high pressure at the back and after losing the ball.


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The majority of their recoveries came out on the wings or in the midfield zone due, especially, to great teamwork, moving as a block and picking up the ball quickly.


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Opposition teams tried, and sometimes succeeded, to counteract Barcelona’s high pressure with direct play, seeking to regain the ball. 


A Compact Defense


Barcelona ended the season as the team with the fewest goals scored against them, a total of 15. Their complete dominance of the game meant that there were few defensive situations they needed to cover.


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In the medium block, they closed the gaps between their lines, sometimes with two lines of fours, forcing the opposition out wide.


There were many times when they forced the opposition to restart their build up by putting pressure on the holder of the ball, pushing them back to their own half.


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Throughout the season, Barcelona were the protagonists in almost every game, turning great play into victory after victory and trophy after trophy. This was, without doubt, one of the greatest campaigns in the history of football, whether that be in the masculine or feminine arena.


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