Two weeks, two games, two losses. In these two games both opponents nullified Barcelona’s tactics and in both games Barca couldn’t come with an answer. While a loss against a inform team like Real Madrid didn’t come as a big surprise, the loss against Celta Vigo has to worry many supporters no matter how optimistic a fan you are. It is true that Barcelona had many shots in the Celta game but the finishing was quite terrible at times. And yes Celta goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez produced some outstanding saves but I think it covers up the fact of how bad Barcelona’s accuracy in front of goal has got in the last few seasons.
Ever since Pep Guardiola’s era ended in 2012, the attitude of killing off oppositions has faded away. The pressing has gone, the tempo has gone, and more importantly the attitude that no one can beat us is gone. I read on Twitter that due to the strength of La Liga, we as fans shouldn’t be surprised that we lost and that Clues are too arrogant and team like Celta aren’t pushovers is exactly the reason we are in this current situation. Do you think Pep would expect a lost at home against Real Madrid yet alone Celta Vigo? The same goes for Man United under Sir Alex Ferguson would they expect a lost against Southampton? Really? In both cases both managers would give up managing then have this kind of attitude. Have expectations got so low that we accept this type of loss as down to luck? This idea that things will get better and we are close to turning the corner is absolute nonsense. There is zero improve this season then under Tata Martino who was heavily criticise for team tactics. We haven’t moved forward at all. And this isn’t me being pessimistic and negative, it’s just the truth.
This view that this new front three is just going to go on the pitch and win every game 4 or 5 nil is not going to happen because football is a team game not about individuals. And yes individually they are outstanding talent players, world class players but there are polar opposites of each other. For me I don’t think Neymar and Messi complement each other at all. Neymar is a counter attacking player while Messi is made to play the passing and possession style of Barcelona. And with both players playing in the same team there is confusion in the style the team should be playing. Do they play to Messi’s or Neymar’s strengths? For me because of what he has done for the club and still does, it has to be Messi and for me and people might think I have absolutely crazy but I think that means dropping Neymar. I said it at the time and I’ll say it again, Barcelona’s move for Neymar was purely for marketing purposes. Did Barcelona ever need Neymar? Surely two centre backs and out and out number nine should have been priority instead splashing out ridiculous money on a player we didn’t even need. It begs the question on the way Barcelona as a club are developing into. Are we losing our identity? Would Pep have signed Neymar? Somehow I highly doubt it.
People will say who will play instead of Neyamr, who will do a better job than him on the left wing? For me due to the shambolic defensive performances in recent seasons, Barcelona need to change their formation. The obvious defence problems need to be a priority for Luis Enrique not attack. A change to a three man defensive line would for me stop Barcelona getting over run on the counter attack. The formation for me that Luis Enrique should go for is 3-1-4-1-1. With the debate of who should start in goals fairly obviously, Bravo gets the nod here. The back three should be Pique, Mascherano and either Bartra/Vermaelen. People will ask what about Mathieu, and for me I don’t think he is good enough for Barcelona. He is at the wrong age to help Barcelona and playing centre back for Valencia is completely different than playing centre back for a club like Barcelona. The skill set alone is at a different level. I think it was plain to see that Mathieu technical is well below the standard set by Barcelona. Pique’s strengths for me have always been his passing and bringing the ball out of defensive. This was his key attribute under Guardiola. When was the last time we have seen Pique do this? Is he worried that him moving out causes too much space behind him? If this is the case then a switch to a three man back line will hugely benefit Pique.
In midfield, with Mascherano in defence I think Sergio Busquets is the perfect player to play as the pivot. In front of him I would play Rakitic and Iniesta (when fit). The wing backs decision is fairly clear for the near future with Alves and Alba perfectly suited to the role. However I think Adama also has brilliant potential to develop into a world class wing back and I think any experience he can get should be given to him. The front two has to be Suarez and Messi with Neymar on the bench. Just for the balance of the team, these two are better suited to the system than Neymar. Suarez is in his natural position and Messi can have the free role that he excels at. So the strongest XI for me should be like this:
Mascherano Pique Bartra/Vermaelen
Alves/Adama Rakitic Iniesta Alba
Some people will after reading this say I am too negative and that I probably only started supporting Barcelona since 2009 (which has been directed at me before). However since I was a six years old I have supported Barcelona so I have seen Barca go through transition in the past. Please feel free to leave a comment and give your own view on Barcelona and the way forward.