Due to his incredible adaptability to operate in so many different positions, such as a central midfielder, winger or fullback, and his undoubted all-round quality, Sergi Roberto continues to prove his worth to Barcelona.
And under Quique Setien’s tenure, he’s shown what a vital asset he is to the tactically sophisticated technician’s plans, with him giving his manager much flexibility as to how best deploy him and his team in general.
Operating at right back, a role he’s now extremely familiar with, for Barca’s crunch clash with Getafe, Roberto once again put in shift littered with upside, in a match where he notably scored his first league goal since 2017.
Despite Barcelona dominating possession for large chunks, third placed Getafe still posed a major threat offensively with their transitions, physicality and nous upfront. So Roberto had to be on his game to handle this threat, which he was, dealing with whatever came his was quite comfortably indeed.
Facing off against talented Barca loanee, Marc Cucurella, Roberto certainly won the battle, for he defended with conviction and awareness to keep his adversary quiet. Good in 1v1s, tracking runs attentively, strong in aerial duels and timing his challenges cleanly, the 28-year-old hardly put a foot wrong, thus ensuring Cucurella struggled to have his usual impact.
When not directly marking Cucurella, Roberto remained positionally secure, as he’d recognise when to tuck infield to ensure compactness, step out, drop back, shift across or support his defenders.
The fact he chimed in with eight ball recoveries, three interceptions, two clearances and won two aerial duels punctuated his strong output.
Meanwhile, on the offensive side of things, Roberto was customarily assured in possession, stroking around the ball tidily to connect, construct and break the lines when the opportunity arose. Two footed and boasting fine vision, the Spaniard’s ability to remain unfazed by pressure to combine with his teammates to get away from danger or to find the free man was a big plus against Getafe’s fierce pressure.
Superb incisive pass to play in a teammate
Without question, however, his most striking contribution came from his wonderful forward bursts. Curling and timing his runs superbly so he could remain onside while exploiting the blindside of his marker, he added valuable width and depth to Barca’s attacks. Credit must go to the likes of Frenkie De Jong and Antoine Griezmann especially, for they drew their trackers narrow to generate openings for Roberto to explore.
Brilliantly timed blindside run in behind
Sublimely timed run in behind to take advantage of the space
Wonderful depth run as he catches Getafe off guard
Cucurella getting drawn inside which frees up Roberto to receive
Providing a great outlet for the switch
Indeed, his goal offered a glowing testament to his aptitude here, with him angling his out-to-in blindside run smoothly to evade his marker before finishing with aplomb on his left foot.
Fantastic blindside run to get free before finishing
Some other ways he unbalanced Jose Bordalas’ men came courtesy of his slick underlapping runs and rotations with Griezmann, which posed dilemmas for Getafe on who should mark who. His high and wide positioning also saw him available for quick switches of play, where he often found himself in a 2v1 overload with Antoine Griezmann or a 3v2 superiority to get at the away team.
Helping form a 2v1 out wide with Griezmann
Forming the free man as Barca form a 3v2
When looking at his offensive numbers, and they were solid too, as he completed 41 of 46 attempted passes, five of six attempted passes into the box and final third, two shot assists, two dribbles and two touches inside the box.
After yet another accomplished display by the regularly unheralded Barca utility, this will do wonders for the heavily derided figure’s confidence, who regularly comes in for rather harsh criticism.
With such a massive period ahead that includes the Clasico against Real Madrid, their Champions League tie with Napoli and a tough contest with Real Sociedad, you can guarantee Setien will value his presence no matter where he decides to deploy him.
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