In December, after linking a couple of draws at the Camp Nou, more changes came in the plans for Ronald Koeman. When he arrived in August at BarcelonaHe carried under his arm a rather rigid booklet of what and how his team should play. The lack of signings, injuries and some other lifting by the squad led the Dutch coach to move the tree, to shake it. The first thing he rebuilt was the scheme, recovering the already classic 4-3-3 that characterizes the blaugrana in this century.
At this point in the season, despite the defeat in the final of the Spain Supercup, the improvement is palpable in terms of effectiveness and results, although they are still far from the excellence that is assumed. Among the reasons for this improvement, a name stands out for its evolution and context in the new game and style of the Catalans, Frenkie de Jong.
De Jong He has been playing in a somewhat more advanced position for several weeks now than when he reached the Barça. His initial role was in the pivot along with Sergio Busquets or a slight step above the 5 blaugrana. Saving last season when it landed Koeman in Barcelona, this set up the 4-2-3-1 that placed the midfielders on the same line, on the same step. Busquets and Of Jong they were always the first options, the ones chosen to embody those demarcations.
Koeman has decided to break with that idea and bet decisively on expanding the space and mobility of both Pedri -Who already enjoyed it- as of De Jong. The Dutchman, if possible, is assuming a notorious physical effort, since he covers much more field than before, appears in every corner of the field and steps on the area with remarkable ease, joining whenever necessary as shown by the goal achieved against him Elche.
De Jong is playing further forward, one step ahead of usual at a similar height to Pedri, although with different functions since the canary tends to stay closer to the playmaker to appear between the lines. The Dutchman appears more in attack, falls down the sides, from left to right, is embedded between the centrals to get the ball and ends the play on the baseline serving the 0-2 to Riqui Puig before him Elche.
From Llorente to De Jong
Koeman seems to have copied Diego Pablo Simeone and its transformation with Marcos Llorente. Last season, the Argentine coach surprised everyone with the Madrid midfielder, whom he went from using as a double pivot man to midfielder or second striker, a role more typical of belt or even Joao Felix. He gave him other functions, advanced his position and allowed him to appear in other areas of the field with more meters to exploit his outstanding physical condition.
Llorente answered. The Madrilenian went from being a player with a low rotation or the most unquestionable ownership. He became a fundamental man in the offensive performance of the team based on kilometers, effort and goal, a lot of goals. The new Llorente It is here to stay and today it continues to be a key piece in Cholo’s schemes. This season he has already six goals and five assists so far this season in the league, starting in 14 games and participating in 18. He started in all the duels of the Champions group stage and scored one goal and one assist.
Frenkie de Jong has undergone a mutation in 2021 that resembles what was experienced with Llorente. Later, he covers more spaces, runs more and contributes more goals for his team. Since Koeman decided to give him more space in the three-quarter zone, allowing him to step on the area more frequently, Of Jong has added three goals. The first and fundamental that served to add three points in Huesca (0-1), the initial one in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup against Real Sociedad and the latter against Elche. In addition, the assistance to Pedri in 1-1 against Athletic in the League on January 6 and the latter to Riqui Puig.
Three goals and two assists from the new Of Jong mark the course of the Dutch this section of competition and further increases its importance in this new Barcelona. He, unlike Llorente, was already crucial in the schemes of KoemanBut his new role is elevating him to a critical role that he lacked before. Frenkie is growing and that also makes the Barça.