Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong says tactics have not changed much since Quique Setien took over as head coach from Ernesto Valverde.
Valverde was sacked following the 3-2 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana semi-finals, with Setien – an advocate of Johan Cruyff’s possession-based approach – named as his successor on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
The 61-year-old appears to have had a prompt influence on Barca’s style, the Catalans enjoying 82.4 per cent of the ball in the LaLiga win over Granada and 78 per cent in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey victory in Ibiza.
Barca only managed three goals across those two games, though, suggesting they are yet to find a fluency to their attacking play – something for which Valverde was often criticised.
And De Jong says Setien has not made many alterations yet to the team’s approach, telling reporters at a sponsor event on Thursday: “He doesn’t ask anything concrete of me. The idea he has is the same as Valverde, the style of Barcelona possession.
82.6% – @Barcelona’s Quique Setién has become the second manager with the highest possession figure in a @LaLigaEN game since at least 2005/06, after Pep Guardiola (84% vs Racing de Santander in 2011 and 83.9% vs Levante in 2011). Premiere. pic.twitter.com/A5FSdHyGCn
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 19, 2020
“The only things that have changed are small details, but the intention is to have the ball.
“It seems like I’ve adapted easily, and I’m happy, but I know I can do much better. I also believe we have a lot of room to evolve as a team and we’ll be better throughout the season.”
De Jong signed for Barca last January but did not move until the end of the season, helping Ajax to the Eredivisie title and the Champions League semi-finals before his departure.
The Netherlands midfielder is now hoping to go further in European competition, perhaps as part of a treble.
“I want to win every trophy but, if I had to choose one, I’d choose the Champions League, although I want to lift LaLiga and the Copa del Rey,” he said.
“Last year, Barcelona-Ajax would have been a beautiful final. Hopefully, I can be there this year.”
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