After Iniesta left to join the J-League, Barcelona suffered from the absence of the multi-feature midfielder, who had the ability to move the team into an offensive state and participate in the attack, but this season, without any introductions, a brilliant star, born in 2002, shined at the level of the La Liga and the Champions League and gave a glimmer of hope to find a model midfielder for the future.
The player we are talking about now is Pedri Gonzalez, the 18-year-old Spanish player, who started a great season in midfield and was able to reserve a place in Coman`s main squad in the League and Champions League, where he participated in 14 matches in La Liga and 5 matches in the Champions League.
Pedri has played 763 minutes this season, which is his first season with Barcelona, after he came from Las Palmas displaying remarkable brilliance, where he played 2823 minutes participating in 10 goals and this number is distinctive for a midfield player of 17 years of age, which prompted Barcelona to give him the opportunity to join with The first team this season and they have not been disappointed.
FC Barcelona structure under Ronald Koeman
Barcelona under Ronald Koeman this season didn’t adhere to one plan. Since the beginning of the season, Koeman’s choices varied from 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1, and the team didn’t play according to its usual plans as of previous years 4-3-3 except in one match against Osasuna in the 10th round of La Liga 2020/21.
However, after the many absences that hit the team recently, we saw Coman radically change his formation, as in the Barcelona match against Valladolid, the team played in 3-4-3 formation, with three players in defence, which seemed strange to Barcelona’s normal structure, but anyway, before we start talking about our player Pedri, we must first know the basic structure of the Barcelona team so that we can analyze the whereabouts of Pedri’s movements.
Barcelona usually start with Ter Stegen as a goalkeeper as soon as he is ready because he is the best goalkeeper in the squad by far, also Gerard Piqué before his injury was among one of the mainstays of the team next to Clément Lenglet and the American newcomer Sergiño Dest, right back and Spain’s international Jordi Alba left-back. Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong are midfielders in addition to Miralem Pjanić at times, Pedri González, Antoine Griezmann, Ansu Fati before he was injured and Ousmane Dembélé, being the team’s wingers, Lionel and Martin Braithwaite are the forwards.
The defensive roles of Pedri and his participation in the build-up
First of all, we must introduce the player we are talking about. Pedri González is an 18-year-old Spanish player who can play in several positions on the field and is good at that too. Pedri is a great player, he is only 18 years old and in his first 3 months at the club, he played as holding midfielder, right and left winger, a playmaker and a supportive midfielder, his quality is so high and has the potential to be a great player.
We will talk first about the defensive role that he plays to help the team, whether in supporting the full-backs in covering both sides of the field or in applying pressure on the ball carrier and retrieving it.
Pedri’s defensive stats are good for an offensive player in the first place, where he applied 193 pressures on the ball carrier and succeeded in extracting the ball 61 times, a rate of 31.6% as well as doing 23 blocks and eight interceptions.
Pedri always has the advantage in defense when he supports the two full-backs in covering both sides of the field, especially Alba. This support that Pedri provides gives the full-back the freedom to go and participate in attacks and also helps prevent the opponent from penetrating from the sides, as shown below, where Pedri presses the ball carrier on the left side, and actually managed to recover the ball and return it to his teammates again.
To complement the defensive role of Pedri, he also has a big and effective role in the phase of build-up, when Barcelona players build-up from the back, Pedri drops to their half to receive the ball in the half-space and then to empty the central channels to the nearby midfielder so that the team continues to build-up and move the ball to the attack areas.
Below we explain this in detail, while the team was building up, Pedri dropped back and received the ball on the left side, then went to the half space and left the space in the depth of the field for De Jong to move in it (the nearby midfielder).
Pedri under the pressure
One of the most important features of the midfielder is how he deals with the ball under pressure. Pedri is distinguished by his good handling of the ball under pressure. He can choose the best solution if dribbling or passing under pressure in dangerous areas of the field.
Here is an example of this where we can see that Pedri was surrounded by 4 of the opponent’s players and in spite of that he handled the ball well under pressure; Pedri played the ball in to the space on the right side towards the advancing Sergi Roberto.
As we mentioned above, Pedri can handle the ball well under pressure, whether by passing or by dribbling, but he also has the talent to choose the best way to do so as he does not rush to make a decision, whether by passing if there is space for passing, or dribbling until there is space for passing.
Here is another example of that, but in the second case, where Pedri was surrounded by several players, he decided to dodge to give Alba time to move, Alba actually moved in to the space and then passed the ball to him to move the team forward.
Pedri’s offensive effectiveness
Pedri is a good player on the level of defence. Also, he showed good offensive levels in the 19 matches he played with the team, whether in the league or the Champions League.
Pedri has good visibility to pass and pass with precision in the best way in attacking areas. When the team is in the offensive third, Pedri has the ability to move the team offensively as required by passing the ball in dangerous areas of the field and also in the available space in which the Barcelona player who is available to be passed to.
Here is an example for this case, when they were in the offensive areas and Pedri had the ball, he waited and looked at his teammates, and then he decided and passed the ball to Alba in the available space.
Pedri also has an important role in the transitions, as he is considered the link between lines. In the transitions, he moves between the lines to receive the ball and then passes it in the best way to the wings in the space behind the defence, as shown below, where Pedri received the ball and then quickly passed it to Griezmann behind the defence in a dangerous area in the opponent’s goal area.
Here, too, is another example of Pedri’s role in the transitions, where Pedri dropped between the opponent’s lines to receive the ball and then went to the left side to attract the opponent’s players with him and allow the full-back to move in the space behind the opponent’s defence and then executed a dangerous pass, but Barcelona’s players didn’t use it well and failed to score a goal.
To complete the clarification of Pedri’s offensive roles, he also has a major role in retrieving the balls cut from Barcelona’s players around the box and remaking a dangerous attack again with a pass.
Below is an example of that when the ball rebounded from the opponent’s players, Pedri retrieved it again and then passed the ball in a wonderful way from outside of the opponent players to the left half-space that was free of opponent players.
Pedri has the talent for good movement also inside the box. Here, for example, when Dembélé entered the box, Pedri moved towards the far post and then he returned at the penalty point to confuse the opponent and escape from the pressure inside the box, and indeed he managed to score a goal as shown below.
Pedri González is an 18-year-old Spanish player who plays in several positions on the field and is good at that too. Pedri is a great player, he is only 18 years old and in his first 3 months at the club, he played as holding midfielder, right and left winger, a playmaker and a supportive midfielder, his quality is so high and potential for a great player.
In this scout report about the player, we tried to go into all the details about the player and to show his defensive and offensive capabilities.