One of the first recognizable and conventional formations in football was the 2-3-5 formation favoured in England in the late 19th century, as anyone who’s read Jonathan Wilson’s splendid book Inverting the Pyramid will remember. Wilson named the book to detail the long and winding road from that to 4-4-2 and similar formations.
Now it appears we may have come full circle. The excellent (but sadly-Barca exclusive) YouTuber AllasFCB put out the above video detailing what he claims to be a 1-2-3-4 by Barcelona against Getafe (although Zonal Marking begs to differ).
We’ve read about the rise of the back three recently (particularly within a 3-1-4-2), and Toronto FC even experimented with their own variation with a 3-4-3 in the early part of the season with Frings in the central defense role ahead of what were essentially two wider centrebacks.
In this case however for Barcelona, Mascherano appears to be playing behind Adriano and Puyol, with Xavi and Iniesta pairing up with Busquets in the middle. So in this variation, the tradition full backs have moved up past the wing-back position all the way to being wide forwards, Pedro on the left and Cuenca on the right (they’re both wingers). Perhaps they’re meeting Alexis and Messi who’ve dropped back?
I’m not tactically-minded enough to go into the iterations, but this looks to be a fascinating development and proof that Guardiola’s propensity to change with the circumstances, as their narrowing in the La Liga title race indicates…