F.C. BARCELONA, ONCE, A TEAM FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS NOW LOOKS TO BE IN SHAMBLES AS THEIR LATEST SERIES OF VICTORIES IN LA LIGA SANTANDER RAN SHORT AFTER BEING HELD AT HOME BY CÁDIZ CF
F.C. Barcelona is simply, in troubled waters. For a team who were the first ever to win a treble, a sextuplet and have their own La Masia graduates as the top 3 nominees for the much-coveted Ballon d’Or in 2011, their downfall is a bit too rough. The only silverware collected in these recent years by them was La Liga back in 2018-2019. Since then, the train has derailed agonisingly. And the errors are MORE than evident enough.
- Transfers: Quoting Leo Messi: “…the truth is that there has been no project or anything for a long time, they juggle and cover holes as things go by…” Josep Bartomeu has done exactly the worst job one can think of when bringing in transfers for the club. From 2016 onwards, every signing that has been made, has failed to prove itself. J. Todibo, C. Lenglet, S. Umtiti, P. Coutinho and many more. Martin Brathwaite, the latest offensive signing has been one of the most clear evidences of ‘covering holes’. He started pretty well but now gets only 5-6 minutes of game time under Koeman. F.C. Barcelona’s defence is where things have gone utterly south for the Catalan giants. Perhaps with the onset of presidential elections, they might find a way out.
Joan Laporta had flaws, did leave a significant amount of debt but also brought in transfers who made Barca the best team in the world. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi and others.
- Defense: Inconsistency has been a synonym for the F.C. Barcelona defense. There are literally zero defenders who have that driving capability to keep hold of the fort. Lenglet, Pique, Umtiti, and Jordi Alba, none of them seem to be what they were when they last won the league. R.Araujo and Sergino Dest, the only two rays of hope have been performing better than the average. While Araujo has been a beast and has not been dribbled past in all of his recent games, Dest has had a few errors.
The last set of great defenders in Barca probably ended with Puyol, Mascherano, Marquez and a prime Gerard Pique, who now seems like a Sunday League player at times.
Wingers: Although all of the wingers seem to have talent: Trincao, and Dembele, sometimes alternated with Griezmann, none of them seem to have that edge. That match-deciding factor remains only with Lionel Messi, who does not show signs of slowing down. Dembele remains inconsistent, Trincao has just found his first three goals in a Barca shirt and Griezmann likes to drop deep instead of winging. The false winger that is provided by Jordi Alba remains, most of the time, a useless feat. Cutting back to the times when they last won the Leagues, they had Neymar, Henry and a prime Messi. They would tear down defenses like a hot knife through butter.
Strikers: Suarez being sold and that too, to a direct rival like Atletico Madrid has probably been the worst decision the board has ever made. They have no traditional striker, and Griezmann obviously does not function like one. Martin Brathwaite has definitely not been what F.C. Barcelona need, unable to provide that clinical finish. Samuel Eto, Zlatan Ibrahimovic were one of a kind and naturally don’t come under comparison with the heralds now.
Midfield: Koeman just can’t seem to find a midfield trio who would deliver in matches week in and week out. Busquets has been long gone, and even though the youngsters have talent, they remain unexperienced. There seems to be no one who can replace the greats like Iniesta and Xavi.
Formation: Koeman has tried a 4-2-1-3, a 4-3-3, and 3-5-2, with attacking full backs but he still cannot seem to find the key to the perfect midfield trio. Tiki taka does not work with dis-aligned triangles. The number of key passes and goal creations that Leo Messi has provided would have made him the top assist provider in the league if not for the most chances missed by the other players.
The 2009 F.C. Barcelona team had intense pressure, keeping possession, and playing a high line as their three main motives behind wins. And obviously with Messi as a false 9 in 2010-2011, nothing would go wrong. Every triangle created would be perfectly utilised, even with the goalkeepers. This is because Barcelona has always preferred playing out from the back, starting again, slowing things down. They controlled the tempo of the game, whether to increase or decrease.
It seems like the only way F.C. Barcelona can find its magic back is through a change in every aspect, perhaps along with coaching. And something that is always ignored: Barcelona remains a team with a very different philosophy than the rest of the clubs in world football. And unless you’re a legend in yourself, the key to Barca’s immortality only lies in its youth. La Masia perhaps, remains the only outlet to Barca’s creative genius, something which no other team or club in the world can duplicate.