Last seasons Analysis
Xavi's preferred formation so far has been the 3-4-3 and it's been a really offensive one. Xavi looks to stretch his opponents and uses width to do so by having two wingers high and wide with a striker pinning defences back.
Xavi’s build-up philosophy is possession-based. Al-Sadd, under Xavi, are a side that love to dominate by keeping possession. So far during the 2021-22 Qatar Stars League, Xavi's side kept 62.5% possession on average, a figure well-above the league average.
The key is to create quick one-touch passing sequences to open space, maintain width by stretching the field and creating numerical superiorities. Then when Al Sadd advances higher up the pitch, that width and the same principles of numerical superiorities and one-touch-passing remain.
Xavi's approach to get the ball into the final third is the use of the width to stretch the opposition line and play the ball in the opposition 18-yard area and that width comes from the wingers. Getting width from the wingers is similar to the way Barcelona and Spain would have played back in Xavi's time as a player. And Al Sadd's width is a great mechanism for them to keep possession and switch play.
Al Sadd are good in creating chances in front of goal because of their alternatives of using the width as well as attacking through the centre. They currently lead the xG charts with 18.06xg whilst overperforming scoring 29 goals in 7 games.
The philosophy that he has brought to Al Sadd matches is something Barcelona would welcome, hence the rumours after Koeman's sacking.
Al Sadd press from the front of their attack, which is required to be a heavy possession-based side. They currently have a PPDA of 8.3 - allowing their opponents to only make around 8 passes before a defensive duel. They prefer to engage out wide and by doing so, that's the area Al-Sadd force their opponents and in their most recent game, 41% of their defensive duels happened out wide on the left and 38% on the right.
When Al-Sadd lose the ball higher up the pitch, they try to create numerical superiority around the players that are positioned close to the ball. Xavi's side set up to keep the ball so they generally don't have to do much defending. If they do concede a goal, it is usually out of a failure to adequately recover in transition, or from ineffective pressing which is something Barcelona will have to cut out of their game. Analysis research: https://www.rdftactics.com/post/xavi-hernandez-al-sadd-tactical-analysis https://totalfootballanalysis.com/article/xavi-at-al-sadd-how-well-is-the-preparation-for-barcelona-going-tactical-analysis-tactics