Barcelona Philosophy of Playing Soccer

FC BARCELONA style reflects that the “team” is most important.

The team is more important than any player (individuality)

Having 8 players from their academy in the first team is something that is not happening anywhere else in the world and at the same time they are probably the best team in the world. This past weekend, three more of their academy players had significant playing time in the first team game bringing the number up to 11.

This type of success does not come overnight. Their academy has been working on developing their style of players for 15 years. It is no coincidence that while they won little at National level in the first 10 years, they kept at the same developmental plan and now Barcelona have become the world club Champions. The Spanish national team is currently the European champions and the world cup champions

While their main focus in the eyes of world football is possession, possession and more possession they actually almost start with a reverse mentality to accomplish this. This may come as a surprise to many of their converts on the outside looking in.


  1. Transition (from losing to winning the ball)
  2. We have possession 
  3. Transition (from having to losing the ball)
  4. Lost possession

A youth coach at Barcelona told me that at all levels, youth and senior; it is important to teach the players that the best time to win the ball is IMMEDIATELY after they have lost it.

So this encourages immediate high pressure from the closest player or players.

He says after having possession of the ball for a spell, by making the BALL DO THE WORK (as the ball never gets tired) our players in possession are fresh; the opponents by chasing trying to win it back are in a moment of tiredness when they regain possession.

It is during this moment of tiredness (as they are still recovering from their exertions trying to win the ball) that the best time to try to win the ball back occurs.

And psychologically this is bad for players when they have worked so hard to win the ball back, and they immediately lose it again.

It is a simple philosophy but it makes total sense.

If you give them time on the ball, they regain their breath and by making the ball do the work and passing and moving they are allowed to get into their rhythm again and we are then required to chase and try to win the ball back and as a consequence be tired.

Psychologically as a player I know I always felt a lot less tired when we had the ball than when we were chasing trying to win it back, even if the same amount of ground was covered by me in both instances.

I would add that my personal philosophy related to this is that as soon as we win possession of the ball the player winning it makes the easiest and safest pass to his teammate to ensure we maintain possession of the ball, unless there is a clear opportunity of a counter attack or we win it in the attacking third and have a chance to shoot on goal.

By doing so and keeping possession, we have a chance to score and it gives us the time needed to change our immediate team shape from one of defending to attacking.

There is NO TIME to do this and change our team shape if we immediately give possession away with a pass that is high risk AND WE LOSE OUR MOMENTUM.

It is important to encourage the players to KEEP IT SIMPLE and keep the ball AS SOON AS WE WIN IT.

And this is what Barcelona players are taught to do, though they have the individual and collective ability of course to do the unexpected also and take the risk.

I know on many youth teams, we have players who still do not understand this concept and they need to be taught and encouraged to play for the team and not for themselves in these vital transition moments.

Also to add; Barcelona; while they have greatly skilled players; they also have the most hard working off the ball in both attacking and defending (and they encourage and work on this all the time).

If it is good enough for Barcelona it is good enough for all of us.

Finally their training is geared (as ours is) to possession of the ball – this is why one-touch training is so important for both quick thinking and quick play.

Barcelona’s Goal Scoring Secret:

Barcelona is the team of the moment. Everyone is talking about this team, and for good reason.

They are hands down the best team in the world right now and many people are making the case that they are one of the best teams of all time. All this is based on the skill level of their players, the incredible teamwork, quick one and two-touch passing and the way they out play their opponents and dominate the time of possession. It’s no wonder they win so many games and score so many goals.

But there is one part of their game that doesn’t get much attention, and yet it is critical in my view, and is the difference between them being a good team and a great team. It is the difference between them winning games against the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United.

It is the difference between dominating possession or being in hard fought battles … Last Saturday’s game between Manchester United and Barcelona, who controlled the ball?  Barcelona had 69% of the possession.

So what is this part of the game that really makes Barcelona special? What is it that takes them to a higher level than other teams?

High Pressure Team Defending:

Watch Barcelona play and how they pressure their opponents. It’s incredible. I have to say I have never seen it done so well by any other team in my lifetime. Take a look at the Champions League Final. Poor Manchester United could never get into their rhythm. Every time they had the ball, they were under pressure instantly. They had to make passes quicker than they were comfortable with. This in turn forced them to play backwards or sideward’s far too often or even worse, turn the ball over and lose possession.

A great example of this is the goal Barcelona scored against Manchester United in the pre-season friendly last year. Everyone raved about how Barcelona strung 10 passes together to score a great goal. But what was missed in this was that Barcelona forced Manchester United to turn the ball over in their own half of the field through great high pressure team defending.

Barcelona might also have the hardest working players in order to be able to achieve this success in regaining possession and there are no prima donnas on their team.