Thomas Vermaelen recently compared Barcelona’s training style to former club Arsenal’s in an interview with The Telegraph.
According to the defender, the La Liga team focus a lot more on pressing, which Arsenal do a certain amount of, but not nearly on the same scale.
“The first thing I noticed here was the intensity of the pressing,” Vermaelen said.
“The pressure is on straight away when we lose the ball. We do a lot of positioning games, focusing on getting the ball back. The pressure the players put on you is incredible, you have no time on the ball.
“We always do it [rondos, a pressing exercise] at the start of training, it doesn’t only warm you up but it’s a training session in itself, you try to keep the ball in possession and make the guys in the middle do the pressing.
“We did it sometimes at Arsenal but not a lot of clubs do it like we do it here. It’s a tradition. Even if we have a game in the evening, we come here in the morning and do a rondo.”
This doesn’t surprise me. For a while it looked as if we were really working on our pressing in training but this seems to have petered off as the season’s progressed – at least on the pitch. Barcelona on the other hand are known for their ball retention and ability to win it back in seconds.
Of course, this is all well and good but if you’re not doing anything with the ball once you have it, it can be a pretty useless exercise. Annoyingly though, at the moment, with the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez running rampant for Barcelona, they’re working like a perfectly oiled machine.