• Thursday, 8 November 2012

    Vilanova tears up playbook after Parkhead loss

    After defeat to Celtic in the Champions League, despite his Barcelona team enjoying 89% of possession and dominating in most facets of the games, Tito Vilanova told reporters that this signalled an end to the Barcelona template that has served them so well over recent seasons.

    "It's clear to me in the light of this defeat", said an ashen-faced Vilanova, "that our approach is outdated and has to change. As everyone has pointed out, our domination of possession and great numbers in all statistical areas means nothing as there's only one stat that counts - the final score. Clearly, now that we've lost one game that doesn't have much of a bearing on our ultimate destiny in that competition, we need to completely rethink our approach".

    Pressed on how this would manifest itself, Vilanova outlined a new shape for his team, loosely described as "four, four fucking two", and a change in the facilities as his players' disposal. "Four at the back, four in the middle, big man/little man combo up top, I reckon", said the 44-year old former Figueres midfielder. "And not just any four across the middle. Seeing Victor Wanyama against our midfield made them look Lilliputian, so we've got to go out and find some big units there. A couple of classical English centre-backs to hoof it upfield wouldn't go amiss as well. And you can forget that Nou Camp pitch - I'm sending a plough onto it first thing in the morning and turning the hot water in the away dressing room off", he told the post-match press conference before concluding "Has anyone got Kevin Phillips and Emile Heskey's phone numbers?"

    Elsewhere in the Champions League, Chelsea beat Shakhtar Donetsk with almost the last touch of the game, Victor Moses heading in from a corner deep in stoppage-time. "What was at fault there", said chastened Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu, "was that we switched to a man-for-man marking system and put someone on the post. Because of this one goal, that approach is clearly useless and I expect we'll see a continent-wide shift to zonal systems as a result".

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