Barcelona F.C. lost against a strong and united Real Sociedad this past Saturday. The lack of creativity of the midfielders and strikers, the bad form of the defense, combined with a strong opponent, showed Barcelona’s true colors on the pitch.
Real Sociedad is not the strongest team in the league, far from it, but it is not the worse either. They have managed to put together a group of experienced players who have been playing with each other for a while now, they have great substitutes who can fill perfectly for the starters, and a coach who excels on game planning.
La Liga is an easy league for the superior teams, who have the most money and can purchase the best players in the world, but even for these teams there are ups and downs, periods of positive and negative flow. Let’s not forget that Barcelona had a very successful first half of the season, and that sooner of later there was going to be a slight drop of performance, it happens to every good team, even to Guardiola’s Barcelona.
It seems that there are two squads that play for Barcelona, the one that is clearly better than the other teams, that is able to beat world-class rivals and makes other teams play with a defensive style. The other Barcelona is the one we saw on Saturday against Real Sociedad, the one who is clueless in the midfield and who lacks accuracy in their passes and shots. These two different performances have one similarity, their clueless defense, Pique, Bartra, Mascherano, Song, Alves, Adriano and Alba. These names are no different that the ones from years ago, in fact the only addition has been Song and Bartra, who hails from the youth teams.
Xavi and Iniesta are simply getting old, they have peaked and they are no longer the ones that we once saw win a world cup. These two marvelous players are simply not physically capable of playing a whole game, they can still make a difference in the pitch, but not for the whole 90 minutes. We now see the true colors of Pique, Busquet, Pedro and Fabregas, because Xavi and Iniesta are not there to make them shine anymore, we can now see how average these players are.
Pique has shown that he is no leader, and without Puyol, he has no idea what he is doing in the field. He has proven that his unnecessary offensive runs have no effect, if anything he closes spaces for the actual attackers to penetrate. Fabregas has always been a confused player, although not completely his fault because the coaches have had a lot to do with it, his real position is in between an offensive midfielder and a defensive midfielder, just like he played in Arsenal. Guardiola, Tito, Martino and Del Bosque have played him as a right mid, left mid, striker, stopper and even as a right back, and he has not excelled at any of these positions. Pedro, without Iniesta, has no physical idea of what to do with the ball besides running forward and shooting.
These results are making these errors transparent, Martino needs to find a solution in order to keep his job for another season. It doesn’t seem fair to judge a coach on his first season but that is just how big teams work. Martino has a plan, just like any other coach does, and it isn’t looking for immediate results, its to eventually become the most competitive team in Europe.
Will Martino and Barcelona recover?
Is Barcelona ready to give Martino a chance on a long term contract?