The FC Barcelona Approach to the “Beautiful Game”

ZENB is proud to be the new Official Gluten-Free Food Partner of FC Barcelona in the US. The following guide provides a refresher for fans of one of most famous futbol clubs in the world or an introduction to those that haven’t been exposed yet to the Beautiful Game.

Countless legends have been made while donning the iconic blue and garnet, making a spot on the Barça squad a goal of top players around the world. However, merely having 11 supremely talented individuals on the field is not what makes teams great. It’s when the manager, former FC Barcelona midfield icon Xavi, assembles the ingredients so that together the players become more than the sum of each of their talents offering a unique style where the ball is the central focus of all that the team does on the field.

FCB 1st Team Defenders & Goalie: Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde, Héctor Bellerín, Marcos Alonso, Marc-André Ter Stegen

Any team, regardless of the ability to score goals, needs to start with a foundation of talented defenders. These players, as the name implies, defend the team’s goal. When successful they ensure that the goalie’s 90 minutes only require a handful of saves. Defenders are skilled at challenging players on the other team, halting their attack on goal and winning possession of the ball to put their team on the offensive. Defenders are typically the most physical of all positions, using strength to win one-on-one challenges with opposing players and to execute various forms of tackles. A successful defense also begins attacking plays and assists in moving the ball up the field. Meanwhile, they keep a keen eye on the opposing team and employ a variety of fancy footwork and coordinated efforts to keep them at bay. Barça’s four defender formation is made up of two left and two right players. The central pair are the rock of the defense, never straying too far up field, while the exterior two often make runs up the field to participate in offensive plays.

FCB 1st Team Midfielders: Pedri, Gavi, Sergio Busquets, Sergi Robert

Midfielders participate both as defensive and offensive players to operate as chief playmakers. As the name suggests, they dominate the middle of the field, employing a keen eye to create goal scoring opportunities. Defensively, they preemptively stop opposing attacks and play deep in their own half of the field to aid in preventing the other team from scoring. Once back on offense, midfielders play the primary role of using their vision of the rest of the field to move the ball forward. The central midfielder, more than any other player, functions as the central hub for the team. They will make powerful dribbles, drawing opposing players to themselves, before passing the ball off to a now open player in a goal scoring position. Similarly, they will direct a series of passes, often practiced during training, to nimbly move the ball downfield. The left and right midfielders participate in this passing while also making key forward runs. They also are the ones making pinpoint accurate long range aerial passes, or crosses, into the penalty box for forwards to shoot at the goal. When not passing the ball up to the forwards in an ideal goal scoring position, midfielders are often found showing their shooting prowess with stunning long-range shots. This same ability is used to make long passes either down or across the field, again with power and precision.

FCB 1st Team Forwards: Robert Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, Raphinha)

The forward, or striker, is for many the position of glory. Their primary role is to score goals and spend most of their time on the opposing team’s half of the field. While their skill at shooting is essential, forwards also are incredible at dribbling. Often, they receive the ball from a defender or midfielder with one or two defenders standing between them and the goal and use their dribbling skill to evade their tackles. Strikers also can be physically tough, staying off the shoves of opposing players, or incredibly fast, outrunning their opponent to a well-placed ball. The combination of the two has proved in many players to be unstoppable. When without the ball, forwards are constantly assessing the position of opposing players and their own to remain onside. Judged by a matter of inches, getting it right can mean a wide-open goal scoring opportunity and wrongfooted defender, while getting it wrong can mean a goal denied. Since there can be only one goal scorer, the three FC Barcelona forwards work together seamlessly to pass the ball to the optimal goal scoring position. Tight, back and forth passes, and off the ball runs make for magical moments in which the players seem to have read one another’s minds. 

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