Barcelona have announced that Gerardo Martino is set to sign a two-year contract to replace Tito Vilanova.
Gerardo 'Tata' Martino was a key player in that Newell's team that won the Torneo Apertura title in 1991 under Marcelo Bielsa, a disciple of the high-pressing, possession-based football Pep Guardiola replied during his spell at Nou Camp.
Martino is more pragmatic than Bielsa as he showed when enjoyed success since he moved to Paraguay in 2002, where he won four league titles in five season with Libertad and Cerro Porteño before to lead the Paraguay national team at one international level that they rarely reached before. Taking Paraguay to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was a huge achievement and team's performance there reflected how Martino made his job done. They reached the quarter-finals for the first time in their history and came close to dump Spain out hadn’t Oscar Cardozo missed a penalty. He built his team around a 4-4-2 / 4-3-3 hybrid formation usually lining up Roque Santa Cruz up front alongside Lucas Barrios and keeping a winger staying wide while the other flanker were playing much more centrally, forming a three-man central midfield in the middle of the pitch when in possession. Playing a conservative football, looking to get behind the ball as many players as possible, Paraguay resulted to be a no exciting but a functional side.
A year later, Martino led Paraguay to the Copa America’s final against Uruguay. Despite the final score – Uruguay were the better team all over the pitch and easily won 3-0 – Martino’s narrow 4-4-2 /4-3-3 side still made a good impressions, playing with a flankers making diagonal runs from his side and with a team looking for a slow game, absorbing pressure.
With Paraguay his approach worked but, although is hard to predict what he will bring on with Barcelona, is probable he will play more conservative than they have done under Guardiola or Villanova. Martino knows Barcelona's play fundamentals but his thinking is far from that Louis Van Gaal, Johann Cruyff or Bielsa had. It will be interesting to see how or if he will re-shape his view.