It is said to be the model to follow by all federations, which is based in FC Barcelona style… But, what does this tactical positioning really mean? Does the combination game disappear without it? Spain, in every category, has assumed it as a method book.

There is a before and an after in Johan Cruyff´s arrival as coach to Barcelona. And there is also a turning point in the Spanish National Team after conquering the UEFA Euro 2008 in Vienna. But not in the first case the application of the concepts by Ajax’s Total Football model in La Masia suddenly occurred, nor did the passes parade in Austrian and Swiss fields by the team under the management of Luis Aragonés.

What to do with the ball and where to appear on the field?

The main role, of the players used to be to work on dynamic exercises on the theory of combinations and intelligent occupation of the field, always next to technical perfection in control, passing and only the necessary ball driving skills. Paying attention to the game style of FC Barcelona and Spanish National Team first teams, we find the perfect application into competition of these terms worked on in training sessions.

Since starting until finishing his evolution in lower teams, the learning process of a young player that plays for Barça is aimed he knows what to do with the ball and where to appear on the field, the same day he makes his debut on the first team, whenever in League, Cup or Champions League matches.

And since their initiation in the under-15 team until their high-performance in the under-20, the young players, viewed by the qualified scouting net of the Spanish Federation, know the attacking game philosophy based in triangulation to reach the end line and to try and score in a combination action.

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Mobility without the ball is the key to develop the idea. Move the ball in a triangle is the development of the idea. Known as “rondo“, it works in different ways during training sessions, it consists of making the ball roll in the easiest, most practical and fastest way and tiring the opponents in their efforts to recover possession. In order for the player to receive the ball he must be permanently moving and looking for the best position. Forbidden to be static, every side of the field is susceptible of being occupied; from the goalkeeper starting the action to central defenders, continuing the transition to midfield, finishing in dynamism of midfielders and wingers in the opponent’s field, and even, the surprising advance of wing-backs.

“The ball flows if I am in movement”

Of course, short passes are not everything in the game. The intelligence of these players allows them to dominate every point of the game, and the long pass or counterattack actions are never discarded.

In conclusion an advice for those coaches who are “requested” to train their teams to play as FC Barcelona or Spain. And also, for those players that should not stay stalled in their development and whose physical and technical skills must be joined with tactical intelligence. The message is: the ball flows if I am in movement.

In the next articles we may talk about possible variants and improvements of this style, as it can be seen in the striking Borussia Dortmund. The young players directed by Jürgen Klopp could be considered as the most attractive appearance since that Ajax of Louis Van Gaal. They connect with this combinations and positioning style with a really important concept: velocity without ball. We will develop it…

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José Antonio Gómez de la Fuente has been working as a youth team coach in one of the most renowned football club in the world – Atletico Madrid. He works as a youth team coach and regularly  manages and collaborates in different youth formation schools projects of the esteemed club. He represents a modern type of a football coach, by being formally educated, multilingual, ambitious and eager for new knowledge and training approaches and perfectionist on a football pitch