Tactical Insights

How do Barcelona, Lyon move on from Giraldez, Bompastor?


Barcelona overcame eight-time winners Lyon 2-0 on Saturday to defend their UEFA Women’s Champions League title, but both teams will be looking for a new manager this summer.

After incredible success over the past three years, both Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez (for NWSL side Washington Spirit) and Lyon’s Sonia Bompastor (likely to be Chelsea) are moving on for a new challenge. But how do the clubs replace them? And what will they bring to their new clubs?

ESPN’s Sophie Lawson, Emily Keogh, Sam Marsden and Julien Laurens give their thoughts.

Stream on ESPN+: NWSL, LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

What are their strengths and weaknesses as managers?

Keogh: Bompastor was an incredible player and a fierce competitor, which has translated into her managerial career. It is in her nature to lead and win, aided by her tactical nous and high intelligence. Giráldez has developed a unique style of play at Barcelona that is impossible for other managers to replicate. His tactical ability outshines his counterparts, while his mental fortitude has fostered a winning psychology.

One drawback to the pair is that they are both relatively inexperienced. Compared to new USWNT boss Emma Hayes, who has been managing for over 20 years, Bompastor has only been at the helm of Lyon for three; Giráldez has also led Barça since 2021. Both have only operated within the confines of their current environment and structures, meaning that venturing into brand new territory may expose some issues.

Lawson: There is natural overlap in both Giráldez and Bompastor’s strengths and weaknesses. Both are still relatively early in their senior coaching careers so can run into problems of predictability and overthinking. Barcelona only play one way — attacking, one-touch passing — and though Giráldez has finely tuned that style, evolving the team from the Lluís Cortés era (in which he was an assistant), there are questions over his flexibility. Conversely with Bompastor, we saw more pragmatism when she arrived, and her Lyon side play as well without the ball as with it.

Marsden: Giráldez inherited a Barça side that had won the Champions League in 2021 and made them even better. Tactically and technically, their performances, success and dominance have been compared to the men’s team coached by Pep Guardiola between 2008 and 2012. On the ball, when their passing and positional play clicks, they are unplayable.

Giráldez, though, would perhaps highlight their relentlessness off the ball when it matters. The best display of that was the 2022 Champions League semifinal against Wolfsburg, but there were moments in Saturday’s final when Lyon couldn’t cope with them. However, Giráldez has benefitted from working with players who have grown up playing that style. Can he replicate it with players from different backgrounds? And how will he cope against teams that are able to counter it?

Laurens: Bompastor has this natural authority and respect from the players who know her past. She was very vocal as a midfielder and behaves in a similar way as a manager. Tactically, she is excellent and her football IQ had always been very high. Her success has come quickly, but she lacks experience and so she still makes mistakes. In the French Cup she made some wrong decisions in her selection, as well as during the game, and Lyon were knocked out early.

Which team will be most impacted by their coach’s exit?

Lawson: It might be controversial, but I think both teams will actually benefit from having a new coach. Lyon had grown stale under Bompastor, and both club and manager will be galvanised by a fresh start; Barcelona, for all they’ve won under Giráldez, are a team that need to do something to keep evolving. But of course, they’re both leaving huge boots to fill.

Keogh: Barcelona have become accustomed to winning and that success has been generated from Giráldez’s mind. With players invested in his tactics, it will take a while for them to adjust to something else and his departure may shake things up. Just as Barça’s winning reign was moving into top gear, Giráldez’s exit may knock them back a step.

Lyon were dominant in Europe before Bompastor arrived and several players like Wendie Renard have been with the club since the beginning and have seen it go through many transitions. The club are more accustomed to the winds of change but Bompastor’s exit will still shake the side.

Laurens: I think Lyon will be the most impacted. The defeat against Barcelona on Saturday in the Champions League final felt like something new was needed — a fresh start to start a new cycle and winning dynasty. There are just not that many managers out there with the right experience, history of success, charisma and knowledge to take over.

Marsden: We may not see it immediately, but I think possibly Barça. Not because I see an immediate crash coming — they are still miles ahead of everyone in Spain — but because success will now be judged against what they have done under Giráldez: 10 trophies out of 12 in three years, three Champions League finals, back-to-back Champions League titles and, to cap it all off, a first-ever quadruple.

Like Lyon before them, at least in Europe, the target is now on their back. They are the team to beat. And, as other teams on the continent invest more and improve, the competition is getting better all the time.

Who is your tip to replace them?

Marsden: Barcelona will seek continuity by appointing Pere Romeu as Giráldez’s successor. Romeu is one of Giráldez’s two assistant coaches, along with Rafel Navarro, and both were considered for the role. However, the club will opt for Romeu, who has years of experience working as a coach within La Masia, Barça’s famed academy. It’s an approach which worked in 2021, when Giráldez succeeded his former boss Cortés, but the bar has been set even higher this time around.

Laurens: Lyon can either go back to an old face for a second stint, or start something new. Gerard Prêcheur did great things with the club between 2014 and 2017, including dominating France and Europe, and is one option. And it would be quite something to see him face his son Jocelyn (PSG’s manager) next season.

Paris FC manager Sandrine Soubeyrand would have been perfect, and Lyon know it, but she extended her contract until 2026. Fabrice Abriel is doing a good job at Fleury, while former Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro, who has just left Juventus, is also a candidate. But of the Lyon shortlist is Pedro Martínez Losa — the former Bordeaux women’s head coach and current Scotland one — who has a lot of things going for him in the race to be Bompastor’s replacement.

Lawson: As Sam says, Barcelona love to look inwards to coaches who already have mud from La Masia‘s pitches trodden into their boots, and Romeu is a logical option for consistency and keeping with the Barcelona identity.

Lyon are quite a different prospect and we know it’s now owner Michele Kang — Giráldez’s new boss at the Washington Spirit — who is calling the shots. While former president Jean-Michel Aulas was well versed in hiring Lyon Féminin coaches, this will be Kang’s first. There have been plenty of names thrown about, but none of the more obvious ones give the confidence needed to guide Lyon through this transitional period, and this is where I hope we see some out-of-the-box thinking. However, only from the managers we know have been in the conversation, Abriel could be one of the more interesting options if Kang is willing to go with someone who lacks experience of coaching at the highest level.

Keogh: Barcelona will retain an element of continuity with Romeu, but Lyon will be unable to follow suit as Bompastor’s assistant Camille Abily is set to follow her to Chelsea.

As Juls says, Montemurro has been linked with a move to France and so has Martínez Losa. But both feel like strange appointments though: Neither knows the league that well, and neither has experience competing in the depths of the Champions League.

After the 2023 World Cup, it was like a merry-go-round of coaches leaving teams and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one end up at Lyon. The Women’s Super League has seen its fair share of managers on the move. Aston Villa‘s former manager Carla Ward and Brighton’s Melissa Phillips (who formerly coached Kang’s other acquisition, London Cit Lionesses) are both without a club, and while they are far less experienced than Lyon’s departing boss, they would be interesting placements if the club is looking to rebuild with a new identity. We saw how difficult it was for Chelsea to replace Hayes so it is no stretch of the imagination to suggest that Kang will struggle to find the right replacement for Bompastor.

What will they bring to their new roles with Chelsea and Washington Spirit? And will they sign any of their old players?

Lawson: Bompastor is a hard task master, which could ruffle some feathers at Cobham. But she brings the knowledge of how to win Champions League titles and understands just how much blood, sweat and tears have to be lost to get there. The Chelsea squad is largely in a good way, so there will likely only be a small amount of business done over the summer.

Giráldez’s task in Washington will be different as he’s joining a team in midseason. They are also currently in great form, which raises the question of how much he will want to put his stamp on them from the get-go. The talk of Barcelona players joining him has been non-stop but it’s hard to see any of Barça’s established players jumping ship.

Keogh: Before Ada Hegerberg and Alexia Putellas signed new contracts with their respective clubs, it was possible both coaches would have looked to take their star goal scorers with them. But more likely is someone like England right-back Lucy Bronze, who is out of contract this summer. She could look to end her career in the NWSL and moving to a slightly less strenuous schedule at Giráldez’s new club could even prolong the 32-year-old’s career.

Bompastor could try to bring any of her young starlets with her. With stringent EU requirements to play in the WSL, having experience in France could tip them over the edge and gain them enough Visa points to make the move. Delphine Cascarino, whose twin played for WSL side Manchester United on loan (albeit incredibly briefly) is out of contract, so could potentially move with her former manager. She has only played at Lyon, having been there for nine years and making over 130 caps, but could perhaps be open to a change of scenery?

Laurens: Chelsea are already packed with talent and superstars, but Bompastor might still be tempted to try to bring a player like USWNT midfielder Lindsay Horan or teenage sensation Melchie Dumornay, two players with whom she has a great relationship. In terms of what she will bring to the Blues, it is pretty simple: she is a winner and is cut from the same cloth as Hayes. She is demanding and, because she has been there herself as a player, she knows how to win. She also speaks English, which is a great start, and will have no issues being accepted by her new dressing room.

Marsden: There is no written agreement, but Giráldez will not be looking to take any of Barça’s star players to the States with him. It is also unlikely that the likes of Aitana Bonmatí or Putellas would even consider a move away from Barça right now, especially as the latter has just renewed her contract. However, if players are leaving anyway, they may be tempted by a Giráldez reunion in Washington. Goalkeeper Sandra Paños and forward Mariona Caldentey are both out of contract this summer. That said, Paños has been linked with a move to Mexico and sources have told ESPN that Caldentey would prefer to stay in Europe, with a new Barça deal not ruled out. There are also some talented young players on the fringes at Barça who may eventually end up as targets if game time doesn’t come.



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button