Kosta hails Victory switch to 4-3-3
Kosta Barbarouses has welcomed Kevin Muscat's decision to alter Victory's formation as the forward continues to enjoy some impressive form in the ACL.
Kosta Barbarouses has welcomed Kevin Muscat's decision to alter Melbourne Victory's formation as the New Zealand international forward continues to enjoy some impressive form in the AFC Champions League.
Barbarouses scored the winner and was denied a second goal due to a narrow offside decision as Victory defeated Yokohama F Marinos 1-0 on Tuesday to record their first win in the 2014 ACL group stage.
The pacy forward also netted the equaliser as Victory drew 2-2 at home to Jeonbuk at Etihad Stadium last week.
After being overrun in midfield to surrender a 2-0 lead and lose 4-2 away to holders Guangzhou Evergrande on matchday one, Muscat has demonstrated a willingness to temper his team's risky 4-2-2-2 formation, instructing a central attacking player to drop deep and alter the set-up to 4-3-3 when out of possession.
And Barbarouses, who has found time and space cutting in from a wide position in that structure, is unsurprisingly enjoying Victory's flexible new approach.
"Once we lose the ball or defensively we do tend to push one of the number 10s further back into a more defensive role," he said.
"It probably set us up better for counter attacks in Asia because we've been under pressure a little bit once we concede or in periods of the game. It's actually worked out really well for us at times.
"Once we do get the ball we attack the same as we do in a 4-2-2-2. It's not too much different. But it's just maybe a little bit more stability defensively and we can break a little bit faster as well."
Barbarouses acknowledged that the arrival of centre-forward Besart Berisha as Victory's international marquee next season is likely to prompt a permanent change to the team's attacking structure.
"It's possible," he said.
"Obviously with Berisha coming in we'll have to play (him) as a number nine. We'll see what happens."
Muscat himself, speaking after the game on Tuesday, was coy when quizzed on the subject of altering the formation next season.
"It's too far away at the moment," he said.
"At the end of this campaign, at the end of the A-League, I'll have a lot of time to digest what we're going to do next season. I'm so focused and entrenched in what we're doing at the moment I haven't really given that a great deal of thought."
On Saturday the Victory, second in the A-League standings after their win away to Perth Glory last weekend, take on leaders Brisbane away from home, with Barbarouses, a title winner at the Roar in 2010-11, looking forward to renewing acquaintances with some of his old colleagues.
"It'll be pretty special for me, I had a great year there," he said.
"We had great success. It'll be great to there and play again, it's a great place to go and play football. And it'll be good to see some old faces as well."
When asked about the significance of the clash between the top two in the competition, he said: "(It's) more psychological than anything. If we can go there and get a win, it'll bode well for us in the playoffs."