Barcelona walking on landmines
I wrote this article some days back before Barcelona faced Inter Milan. Though I was not in support of Xavi’s tactics I was still hoping for a miracle. Since so many things was at staked, I hoped for some miracles but I was left disappointed but not Surprised.
It seems like it was weeks ago that Barcelona looked like a force to be afraid of. With Lewandoski firing on all cylinders, a rock-solid defence with an abundance of options, a Goalkeeper in the form of his life, a young and exciting midfield with plenty of options on the bench and an electrifying wing options, Xavi’s Barcelona look on course to destroy any team they meet.
The Press and so many culers only started complaining after the Inter Milan game and some are still in denial, they blame the international break, the numerous injuries suffered by the team, the refs and anyone but Xavi. This is a team praised for its squad depth, the abundance of options in all positions is something, not all clubs can boost of and the best part is the mix of young blood and experience.
Unlike the other culers who started Complaining about Xavi’s tactics, Dembele and Raphihna inconsistent performance, after the Inter Milan match, I talked about this after the first game of the season. After yesterday's game, the cries for a change in tactics increased. I can remember talking about how Lewandoski left as a spectator on the field and starved of good passes in this article. Things were even better back then compared to our recent match where we adopted the cross-and-shot style. With over 30 crosses in a match with no goal, Barcelona seems to be a team playing with more faith in “luck” than their “ability”
Xavi’s persistent use of Ferran Torres
I understand that Ferran Torres is Spanish, young,huge transfer fee, one of Xavi’s first buys and has speed but his decision-making will make a Sunday league player look like the world's best. Understandably, Ansu Fati’s recent injury problem requires careful monitoring of his gameplay, but a half-fit Fati offers more than a fully fit Ferran. Moreover, before Depay’s injury on international duty, Ferran was still preferred ahead of him.
Dembele and Raphinha's positions
The two players seem to play the same position and to accommodate each other one has to play out of position. This isn’t working, especially on Raphinha ‘s part. Even when he is played in the rightful position he hasn’t been consistent. Dembele on the other hand, will play like prime Ronaldinho and Neymar in one body on Sunday and deliver like Hamilton playing football on Wednesday, just speed and vibes.
Another issue with these two players is how selfish they are, I talked about it weeks ago and I will say it again. Great players need to be selfish but to be the greatest among the greats you have to adopt a little bit of selflessness to your game. Though Dembele keeps on racking in assists, it belies how selfish he is and when Lewandoski doesn’t receive the ball often like yesterday, he gets frustrated.
Celta are always tough
This isn’t an excuse but I will give it nonetheless. Celta Vigo and Iago Aspas are a hard nut to crack for Barcelona in recent fixtures,
Xavi’s dream of Iniesta-Xavi rebirth
Xavi desperately wants the connection he made with Iniesta at Barcelona to come to play again, by fielding Gavi and Pedri always. On their part the two players have been great, Gavi in particular has delivered so many Man of the Match performance this season despite the constant call for him to be dropped.
However, Frankie De jong offers something different when called upon. Gavi has one of the cleanest tackles in the world and can go in hard when required, Frankie might lack this, both attack wise he offers more. Another player whose constant omission is surprising is Kessie. Why he was brought from Ac Milan to sit on the bench is unknown to me.
Cut Xavi some slack
In all sincerity I don't think he deserves being pitied with the time he had and transfers he made but ...
Injury Woes and busy Schedule
Just when Kounde and Araujo started creating a great bond they got injured on international duty. Christensen has been great too but constant health issues towards kick-off have robbed him of his position. Eric has been great, likewise the exciting Balde.
The numerous injury has seen Pique recalled to the team (and he’s been great so far. Balde was used out of position and Alba starting, the most surprising still has to be Marcus Alonso playing CB. All these issues have contributed to the team's decline. For a team that loves playing from the back, a confident back is important.
Stegen is in the form of his life
Just one goal conceded so far. 19/20 saves so, in la Liga, a 95% save record is phenomenon and yesterday he was the Saviour again. When he came out to punch a ball and fell awkwardly, the Camp nou fans held their breath, afraid of what will happen if their best player get injured.
Luckily, he continued the match and made more saves to grant Barcelona a much-needed 3 points ahead of their champions league game against Inter Milan.
There is an improvement in the duo’s game and they seem to understand each other more, this is only possible due t the constant pairing in midfield with the old valuable horse- Busquets.
Barcelona has a busy schedule, they have 6 games in 17 days with most of it at home. It will do Xavi a lot of good if he can get his team together, try to feed Lewandoski more and let go of their selfish play, play more through the middle and stop depending on some seamless crosses from Dembele, maybe things will turn out good.
The Bad news is there is no time to waste testing things because Inter Milan will be on their way to Spain today and they will be going for a draw. If Barcelona can’t defeat Inter Milan on Wednesday, Xavi needs to start watching Europa league matches to study Barca’s next opponents because their Champions league journey is over. I hope it doesn’t get to that.
Thanks for Reading! 💙💚❤