LIGA – Wednesday’s sad Classic (0-0) was a reminder that Barca’s game fund was no longer very attractive despite satisfactory results. Ten years after the birth of the “Pep Team”, one of the most attractive formations in history, the legacy seems to have completely disappeared. Explanations.
A dry cleaner that has nothing to do with
This is probably the most underrated dimension of the great Bara de Guardiola. However, this is the cardinal value of the Blaugrana at that time. A high drying as soon as the ball is lost and recovered in a mess bringing dangerous situations almost instantly. When you think of Xavi, Iniesta or Busquets, you first see great ball handlers. But, after the recovery, his sense of coordination will have done wonders.
In the creation, the players of Barcelona were inevitably gathered to combine in the famous tiki-taka made of repetitions of short passes. From then on, once the ball was lost, it was enough simply for the players in the area to press together to retrieve the balls more easily. This is the genius of Guardiola’s Barca: to closely link the possession and recovery of the ball with a compact block in the middle that can make differences with but especially without the ball.
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Private from its control tower, Sergio Busquets, at the start, Barca were never able to gain an advantage over a hard-working and complementary Madrid midfielder. Especially without the ball, Barca suffered leaving Casemiro alone on the first raise. Great strategic error with little consequence, no doubt, but terribly symbolic of Bara de Valverde.
Antoine Griezmann, fighting in this Classic, is just an extension of a long list. From Philippe Coutinho to André Gomes, Arda Turan and Ousmane Dembélé, many arrived at the Boat with a flattering label without ever confirming the hopes that have been placed on them. What do these players have in common? A real creativity in his previous teams that seems to have disappeared once the blaugrana robe is hung.
The first reason is obvious and is due to the profiles of the players aligned, especially in midfield. Inevitably, without Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, incomparable gaming accelerators for the pass, bara lost in individual quality. But, collectively, no satisfactory answer was found. Apart from Jordi Alba, formidable creator of movements in his aisle, and to a lesser extent Frenkie de Jong who has everything to be inevitable, no player from Barcelona seemed to be a sufficient creative resource in front of Lionel Messi’s dazzling. By insisting on verticality, and entrusting all creative power to his MSN, Luis Enrique had already put his finger on a gear that is still confirmed.
Frenkie de Jong (FC Barcelona)Getty Images
On Wednesday, the symbol was called Ivan Rakitic. Placed on sentry in place of Busquets, the Croatian played the most balls in this match (96). But what to do with it? His minimal risk-taking and lack of adecima will have deprived Barca of a smart first increase and movement creator. If the action starts badly, complicated to go to the end …
A less emphasized farmhouse
Identity. This is the key concept of Barca, on which the Catalan club has built its history and, therefore, its DNA. The identity of the blaugrana is based on a pillar that has tended to be clearly neglected in recent years: the Farmhouse. A formidable talent supplier at the beginning of the millennium (Xavi, Iniesta, Piqué, Busquets and of course Messi to name just a few), the barcelona training center is not supplying those from more than Barcelona the eleven as it used to be.
On Wednesday, four members of the Masia were in charge at the beginning: Lionel Messi, Gérard Piqué, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto. Paradoxically, in today’s football, the number is high. But, apart from the Flea, no one is required to take control of the game. And you can feel it. Because, inevitably, Bara’s DNA passes through his young club-trained players with the same play precepts, year after year. In the absence of individual talents marked, identity and play style are at least preserved.
From Nelson Semedo to Ousmane Dembélé and Antoine Griezmann and Arturo Vidal, Barca preferred to look for promising or experienced players elsewhere rather than risk throwing young players waiting for this (Riqui Puig, Carles Alena or Ansu Fati, for example). Logic for a global club like FC Barcelona. A little less for a team that has lost its philosophical roots at the same time.
Ansu Fati at the ClassicGetty Images
Lack of leadership
That’s the last point to have. Who is facing the storm in this Barcelona team? Messi, again and again, with his extraordinary talent. But Captain Blaugrana doesn’t necessarily have the charm of a formidable leader of men who takes his team behind him. In the end, it doesn’t matter how Jose Mourinho explained recently. As long as leaders take control…
But in this Blaugrana team, there’s no head above. If it was excellent on Wednesday, Gérard Piqué does not give off the same grinta as a Carles Puyol at the time. The Lenglet, Semedo or Rakitic have nothing to do with the hungry dog that was Dani Alves. Basically, this Bara lacks personality and oozes the image of a soft group magnified by a genius. He’s like his coach.
For Ernesto Valverde perfectly symbolizes this fragile Bara. The two come-throughs in the Champions League proved that he had never found the mental spring to lift when his team bowed his head. And if he’s still in his place, he owes it more to the peace of the dressing room than to his leadership skills.
Ernesto ValverdeGetty Images
Why does it keep working?
The image is black. However, the results are still there: Bara is the leader of La Liga, ranked for the eighth lacing of La C1 and remains in the race in all competitions. This is what Catalans strive to excel in a surprising communication exercise that resembles the Coué method.
Yes, Barca are still one of the best teams in the world. Because Lionel Messi, with his superhuman performances, erases many flaws. Because the intrinsic quality of Catalan players sometimes allows, when the stars align, to bring out the magic in front of Mallorca (5-0). However, something seems to be broken.
Barca is no longer dreaming and perhaps that is the worst thing that could happen to the Catalan institution. The beginning of barca’s season raises more questions than certainties. What if, by any chance, Messi got hurt? Is Griezmann doomed to eat the chalk on his left side at risk of undermining his abilities? Can André ter-Stegen experience a slack that would leave the Barca behind? Obviously, Valverde doesn’t seem to know what to say. And that’s the most disturbing thing…