Conditions conspired to give us a glimpse of a rarely used, outdated tactic on Saturday: an authentic and faithful use of man-marking during Girona’s hosting of Barcelona at the Estadi Montilivi. What this means is that Girona defender Pablo Maffeo was entirely sacrificed to negate the influence of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi — wherever Messi went, there was Maffeo. When Girona were in possession, Maffeo continued to mark Messi. In fact, Maffeo was substituted in the 78th minute after recording only 10 touches.
Atletico Madrid defeated Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at the San Mames on Tuesday to continue their unbeaten start to league play after five matches. But anemic draws against Girona and Valencia find them trailing Barcelona by four points, and you can’t fight the feeling that despite the continued excellence of players like Koke and Antoine Griezmann, there’s a Diego Costa-sized hole in this Atleti side.
These routines are high risk, high reward. You might get yelled at by your team, the other team or your coach. You might get a booking. They could just flat out not work and you look absolutely ridiculous. Alternate reality: you’re a mastermind and an innovator whose creative genius finessed the win for your team, on-lookers are in awe as they bear witness to the unexpected and its impeccable execution, the play lands on Sportscenter Top 10!
Here are a few routines to start practicing on the training ground.
We’re at a point in football where there’s no reinventing the wheel. Everything’s been done before, and the introduction of and emphasis on things like video analysis, data tracking and sabermetrics translates into a more uniform approach than ever before.