DUELO DE ESTRATEGAS I

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En Camp Nou, Barcelona superó 1-0 a Valencia. Ernesto Valverde y Marcelino García Toral protagonizaron un gran duelo de estrategas.

La pasada temporada, el Valencia tocó fondo. Resultados catastróficos y un año entero por debajo de mitad de tabla. Marcelino García Toral llegó como el salvador. Y en el presente curso se ha transformado en uno de los mejores entrenadores. En poco tiempo armó un equipo que sabe a lo que juega, lo hace bien, obtiene resultados y nunca deja de competir. Ante el FC Barcelona, por las semifinales de la Copa del Rey, el entrenador no utilizó a su dupla central titular, ni a Geoffrey Kondogbia, Goncalo Guedes y Simone Zaza. Pero aún así, le puso en frente al Barcelona uno de los retos más difíciles en lo que va de temporada. Por su parte, Ernesto Valverde llegó a un lugar en el que había que tomar decisiones importantes y rápidas para que el FC Barcelona pudiera volver a competir por los primeros puestos. El andar es espectacular, con un 4-4-2 digno de análisis.

Valencia también utilizó un 4-4-2, pero a sabiendas de que la eliminatoria se definiría en Mestalla, optó por defender. No lo hizo de forma improvisada. Marcelino decidió dónde iba a tener la pelota el conjunto catalán: en las bandas. Una decisión arriesgada, porque la altura de los ataques culés era de peligro, pero la estructura visitante tuvo una solidez envidiable. Cada vez que el Barca quería meterse al área para definir, aparecían los centrales o el doble pivote conformado por Dani Parejo y Francis Coquelin. La concentración fue absoluta, tal es así que los de Valverde tuvieron en la primera mitad un 80% de posesión y no lograron rematar ni una vez al arco. No es la primera vez que el Barcelona juega incómodo en un partido, pero nunca se había transmitido esa sensación de suspenso: se supone, Lionel Messi y compañía siempre encontrarán la forma, pero ante Valencia, vista la primera mitad, eso no parecía demasiado seguro. Esta vez, estaban obligados a ejecutar con perfección.

El plan culé de poner a Aleix Vidal abierto en banda derecha no funcionaba porque como se dijo, Valencia dejaba a su rival recibir en banda cuanto quisiera. El lateral no se iba a marcar sobre la raya, por lo que el espacio interior no aparecía. Entonces, Valverde tomó decisiones. Aceptó el desafío. Si Valencia sólo aceptaba ser atacado por dentro, eso haría Barcelona. Philippe Coutinho reemplazó a Vidal y entró a jugar cerca de Leo Messi. También Andrés Iniesta comenzó a alejarse de la banda para buscar en corto y por dentro. El tridente Messi-Iniesta-Coutinho fue rotando, pero la banda derecha ya casi no se utilizaba. Lionel partía desde allí pero luego buscaba caminos por dentro; el brasileño, iniciaba desde izquierda e intimidaba más que Iniesta por mera cuestión de velocidad y disparo desde afuera. Es decir, Valverde apostó por la calidad asociativa de sus figuras para batir la muralla de la visita. Ahora era Valencia quien debía rozar la perfección si quería ver su plan triunfar.

Jordi Alba desbordó como intentó varias veces en el primer tiempo, pero con la diferencia de que por fin, Messi recibió. Fue posible porque la defensa de Valencia tenía cada vez más referencias para marcar en esa zona: Suárez, Coutinho, Iniesta, Messi y la llegada de Iván Rakitic, que iba a ser reemplazado por Paulinho, mejor en esa faceta. Una vez el astro argentino pudo recibir dentro del área, su talento y el de Suárez hicieron el resto. Valverde resolvió el acertijo y sacó ventaja, pero Valencia, y sobre todo Marcelino, aún tienen cosas por decir.

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1994. Si no rueda una pelota me siento incompleto. Cuando sea grande diré que vi jugar a Messi. Disfruto de leer y escribir.

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