Besides the nickname “Busi,” Sergio Busquets has inherited from his father a calm ability on the ball and cold blood. Sergio is a tidy, meticulous man who plays exquisite and elegant football. He did not inherit from his father the position-Carlos Busquets played goalkeeper-nor the predilection to take unnecessary risks. No, although he has the quality to entertain himself in play, he usually prefers to play with one or two touches. The career of the Badía-bred boy is an intense story since his beginning. Let’s just say his arrival to the first team was not accompanied by drums and cymbals.
His destiny seemed far from Camp Nou, but one man thought otherwise: Pep Guardiola. His tactical intelligence and decision making attracted Pep, who always believed in him more than anyone else from the youth team.
“With just one touch, you’re the best player in the world. With two, you are very good. With three, you are just another player,” Pep said to Busquets.
At 28, Sergio Busquets seems to have existed for centuries. A silent presence, constantly evolving, he has been a key nucleus in a European giant like FC Barcelona, as well as the Spanish national team.
Possibly, there is not a more opaque player, always out of the spotlight, but at the same time, it is difficult to find someone more decisive in his team than this discreet and taciturn man. He is the teammate that everyone wants to talk to, through his passing. Like Santa Claus on Christmas Eve-the difference is-he regales his teammates with gifts nearly every game.
In his greatest splendor, Sergio Busquets is the absolute emblem of, Lionel Messi aside, FC Barcelona’s ethos. With an extraordinary tactical intelligence and and a precise decision-making, the mediocentro has become an essential player for each one of his coaches that has had the privilege of training him. Vicente Del Bosque, Pep Guardiola, Tito Vilanova, and Luis Enrique cannot be wrong. The Badía product has become a legend and the leader of the azulgrana, if we leave the greatest player in football history out of the equation.
The defensive midfielder is perhaps the most important position in football. From here, you attack and defend. The midfielder needs to be a complete midfielder with great stamina due to the terrain he must cover. In Fútbol Club Barcelona, it is even more important. Sergio Busquets is used to playing next to two creative interiors, more like attacking midfielders than anything. As such, despite having his two teammates helping out, he has to cover a greater portion of the midfield. He needs to be in every place, where he dictates the play, always attentive to see if his team loses possession, he can recover it as quick as possible. If anything has demonstrated Sergio’s genius from his professional debut in September 2008, it is the ability to know where he should be and how he can resolve every situation that present itself to him.
At the defensive level, he is the balance amongst everyone else. He helps the Blaugrana attacking jewels have more confidence in what they do. They know that, if they lose the ball, Sergio is already prepared to recover it and reconstruct danger.
The best moment to recover the ball is the second after you lose it. Sergio Busquets has the talent to reduce space, and reduce the rival influence, through mere intelligence, but he also has the physique and legs to quickly win possession. Losing possession is not a problem if you have a sturdy shield at the back. In fact, one of the movements that characterized the greatest Barça in history was the action of, after losing possession, they pressured their rival high up on the pitch, looking to get men forward. Sergio is capable of robbing a ball 60 meters from his area. Few defensive midfielders can replicate that. Busquets is key in this aspect due to his impeccable positioning and how he takes advantage of low pressure from the rival.
Remember when you were a kid, when you didn’t have any friends to play football with? You would kick the ball against the fence, and it would rebound back to you, like a boomerang. Busquets is like that fence, he returns the ball better than he receives it. He gives space and time to his teammates; he is a player who runs against the current in times of rush and chaos.
That bare necessity to extend his time on the ball, to grow closer to the heart of play, has made him a special player in building from the back as well as giving a respite for his teammates in the center of the pitch.
Through his first touch and quick passing, through his effective building-from-the-back and his ability to evade his marker, Busquets has become the reliable, get-out-of-jail-free card in possession. His workrate has improved, and even as his critics lambast him each season, he, in this Barça team, is more important than ever. His mental quickness is at the speed of light.
FC Barcelona’s style demands a constant positional rotation, movements that unsettle the rival’s collective pressure and allow the team, as it staggers, to advance further down the pitch. The purpose, clearly, is making the rival’s defensive transition lose organization, to fatigue both physically and mentally, finding options to cover all the spaces. “Busi” is the axis of this azulgrana team. In this picture, one can appreciate how he passes the ball from the line of defense to the wings; normally the ball reaches the right flank with an aggressive attack up the wing, or with Messi fading away to recover possession and dragging defenders away to create spaces and advance the attack. Apart from that, the fact that Busquets always receives freely and with the route clear to break the lines is not a coincidence, but due to his positioning and the quick ball circulation.
Busquets is the cattle prod that keeps his livestock moving, helping maintain possession, forming passing triangles in the middle to keep a steady flow. One of his most important characteristics is the long pass, the unexpected Hail Mary into enemy territory. During each match that he plays, while observing him closely, it is incredible to see the amount of things he does in a question of minutes. He always keeps his head up, keeping an eye on any potential weaknesses in the rival area, looking for the right pass to unbalance the opposing defense and cause the goal. He does not play to the wings often, but when he does, he overthrows defenses with long passes into the wings.
Sergio can abandon one zone and be an emergency passing option, decide to stay at one side, advance up the pitch, whatever the play demands. But Busquets is not limited to his work with the ball. He’s much more than that, he’s a key piece in the Blaugrana’s offensive transition, as well as their defensive transitions. The Sabadell-born player does not only regain possession, he also knows how to play…well, play very well. The La Masia style is implanted in his DNA, where they teach children to treat the ball with intelligence; it is Barça identity. Busquets, as a great academy product himself, isn’t different. Most of Barcelona’s plays are initiated by the cleats of Sergio. The 5 regains possession, and the next pass is always correct. Busquets, situated above the two center backs, is the anchor that links defense and attack, combining the defenders with the attackers.
Sergio Busquets has spent his career as a Swiss Army knife. A well-oiled machine, usually punctual, arriving just on time to stretch his legs and act as an octopus, recovering possession, before redistributing in an impeccable manner. He is not just that oxygen pump that allows Barça to breathe without the ball. He not only facilitates advantages, he also creates them. Busquets has this conscience, not only in attacking, but in the final transition. Speeding up ball circulation in the rival area, regaining possession in threatening areas, this is the best Busquets, and with the best Busquets, you will find the best Barça.
In the defensive midfield role, the player must be capable of guiding the run of play, from the first to the final phase, and he must be connected with his teammates, whether they are attacking or defending. In this role, efficiency is king. For this reason, Busquets is one of the most brilliant players in Europe. He operates with a serene intellect, he is the friend that everyone wants.
By: Maria Jilo-@MariaaJilo, Translated by Zach Lowy, @ZCalcio