Dare Bet Against “This” Barcelona?
Barcelona went on a 9 game run without conceding a goal at the highest level of World Football prior to this mid week champions league vs. Paris St Germain of France. For a team that is built around offensive play and high ball possession this is quite remarkable and worth applauding!
This loss to Paris St Germain was not only it’s first in 10 games but they conceded also their first goals! where Rivals like Real Madrid have conceded 9 goals in same number of games.
Luis Enrique (ex Barcelona player and youth Coach) is the new man at the helms of affairs at the Nou Camp and we are seeing some flashes of the old under Pep Guardiola, just as we are witnessing some drastic changes in this Barcelona setup!
“Tiki taka” has not been abandoned as many thought but has been adapted by reduction to suit the current situation: there is less short passing and total domination of the opponent in ball possession to the point of 70% in some cases as was the case in the past is not happening, but we are rather seeing a variation in playing style!
The team under Enrique has welcomed several new players from the youth Academy of the ‘La Masia’ (Barcelona’s football school) and these new faces in the fold are quite refreshing to watch as they not only show hunger but creativity in abundance!
“Veterans of the club like Xavi Hernandez have become familiar faces on the substitutes bench as the Barcelona team welcomes into its midfield, Croatia’s world cup 2014 revelation, Ivan Rakitic From Seville!
Rakitic brings less passing and creativity in comparison to Xavi or Iniesta into the midfield but is younger and stronger defensively in aggression!
This Barcelona is a team to watch and I wouldn’t advise you to bet against them winning “big” this season, Iniesta is new Captain and still impressive on the ball!
[soccer-info id=’1′ type=’table’ style=’blue_light’ highlight=’2017||Barcelona’ limit=’5′ width=’750′ /]Barcelona is yet to welcome fully into the starting line up Uruguayan star Luis Suarez (still serving his several months ban for biting Italian Giorgio Chellini at the summer world cup in Brazil.
With Neymar Jr looking fresher and better than last season at this initial stage and legend Lionel Messi looking near his best with not only the above stated statistics (but now has reached the 400 goals mark for Barcelona!) and the eventual addition of Suarez who never stops chasing the ball and is a potent danger upfront to any defence in the world feel this Barcelona attack line will more than wreck havoc to rivals.
One striking difference from the “Vintage” Barcelona under pep Guardiola one notices is that relatively loosened “pressing” football when not in possession. The time lapse from ball loss to recovery is longer now and this could hinder their dominance against top and physical teams in the mould of the ‘new’ Chelsea for example.
After a World cup year with most of its stars having effectively participated this is to be expected!
Defensively Barcelona is looking fragile and with Pique on and off ,coupled with the hyper offensive minded Full backs in Jodi Alba and Dani Laves, against teams who can absorb the attacks and high ball possession coupled with chasing of it that Barcelona will throw at them and break out behind this two full backs, this Barcelona team could struggle.
Funny enough, that was the collective strategy applied by Paris St Germain at the mid week champions league encounter.
The relative disadvantage in size of the Barcelona players that is imposed on them by their playing style makes them vulnerable in Set pieces and cost them two goals at the mid week.
In all-in feel, this Barcelona side is champion material better than last season and though they shed off Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez, they more than compensated for it by the above named acquisitions and should they find a way to physically stay fresh and fit all through the best parts of the season they will win ‘Big’.