Christensen’s role and finding balance in Barca’s midfield

Andreas Christensen / Getty Images
Andreas Christensen / Getty Images

Could Andreas Christensen be the answer to Barcelona’s pivot problem?

Finding a suitable replacement for Sergio Busquets has proven to be a challenge for Xavi and his coaching team. With options like Zubimendi and Kimmich ruled out in the summer, the experiment with Oriol Romeu hasn’t yielded the desired results.

According to Jaume Marcet of SPORT, Xavi has been exploring various alternatives to achieve the right balance. In a recent match at Mendizorroza, he deployed Christensen in a more advanced role in the center of the field, a tactic that worked reasonably well against Alavés.

In Xavi’s current tactical setup, there isn’t a single pivot during the offensive phase; instead, two players position themselves in front of the three pure defenders. The right midfielder has a more positional role, while the left midfielder has the freedom to drop down in attack.

Finding the right duo for the base of this formation has been a challenge for Xavi. The recent pairing of Christensen and De Jong might be the solution, as they demonstrated a positive balance against Alavés.

Christensen’s role was not to replicate Busquets but to act as a protector for the rest of the midfielders. His statistics reflect his effective gameplay, with 55 touches, 48 successful passes, two recoveries, seven losses, and four long passes executed.

Xavi acknowledged that while he hasn’t committed to Christensen as the permanent ‘6’, it is a valid option for the final stretch of the season. Any clever variation or innovation at this point could help the team discover its best form.

Xavi’s move to experiment with Christensen’s position is reminiscent of past instances where midfielders were converted to defence for balance. The emergence of Cubarsí, the reliability of Araujo, the versatility of Koundé, and the solid performance of Iñigo suggest that Xavi has enough centre-backs.

However, he still needs a defensive pivot to allow Gündogan and Pedri to maintain their high level closer to the opponent’s area.