Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova said he opted to start Adriano in defence as he deemed it necessary to play with quick defenders following his side’s 2-2 draw with Real Madrid.
The Brazilian, normally deployed as a left-back by Tito Vilanova, was a surprise inclusion alongside Javier Mascherano in defence, as the Catalan side secured a hard-fought point to maintain their eight-point lead over their rivals.
Before the game many thought Alex Song would start the match, but after the final whistle Vilanova explained why he decided against this.
“Song knows the concepts, but still takes time to execute them. I preferred Adriano because he’s faster, we needed that against Madrid,” the 44-year-old told reporters.
He went on to congratulate his defence – particularly Adriano and Martin Montoya – the latter of whom replaced the injured Dani Alves early on in the match. Barcelona were also without the injured trio of Gerard Pique, Carlos Puyol and Eric Abidal on Sunday night.
“Congratulations to the defence, to Montoya, Adriano, it’s not easy to play in such a game in a defence without several starters,” Vilanova said.
“Our four defenders who would be starters – Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal – weren’t there. I’m very satisfied with how the others did.”
On Alves’ injury, he said: “Alves won’t be able to play with Brazil this week. He’ll be out for some days, although it doesn’t look really bad.”
Vilanova also mentioned that Marc Bartra will play for the club this campaign but that tonight was too big an occasion for the youngster.
He added: “Bartra will have playing time but this wasn’t a game to test him.”
Javier Mascherano also commented after the game on the decision to play Adriano alongside him in defence.
“Adriano as a centre-back was kept secret. We had been training with that line-up the whole week,” the former Liverpool player said after the game.
Adriano himself also remarked on Vilanova’s decision to play him in an unfamiliar role: “People didn’t expect me to play centre-back.
“I thank the coach for believing in me.”
Xavi, who was appearing in his 35th Clasico match this evening, told reporters that he believed his side controlled the game when they were in possession, but suffered when they did not have the ball.
“When we had the ball, we dominated, without the ball we suffer. We were stronger at the end. Both could have won, great game,” said the 32-year-old.
On the result, he added: “Looking at the ranking, this result might be better for us, but you still have a bitter taste because we could have won.
“We missed a chance to get a lead of 11 points on Madrid, but before the season we would have been delighted to be eight points ahead at this stage.”
Sergio Busquets, when asked by Canal+ about the sportsmanship on show compared with Clasico meetings in recent seasons said: “We always try to be sporting. What happened in the past is not good for anyone, and everyone knows that.”