Barcelona is back to winning ways once again. The Catalain club has finally seemed to come out of the “crisis” which saw them losing some matches and a much publicized feud between Lionel Messi and Coach Luis Enrique.
But like any other great club, Barcelona shrugged off the controversies and as Barca is finally settling into Enrique’s system, things are looking bright for the club, even a treble seems like a realistic possibility.
But there is a different side to the story as well. Luis Enrique has failed to sort out some of the areas, and the truth is that Barcelona is simply lucky to win those 8 consecutive matches. And where Luis Suarez, Messi and Neymar have been scintillating, Andreas Iniesta has been less influential. The midfielder has 0 assists and 0 goals in La Liga, which by his standards is quite astonishing.
But since the goals are coming, it’s the defense that is struggling. They have conceded 4 goals in 2 matches and that can make one wonder, is their luck finally running out?
The hard-fought 3-2 home win over Villarreal was one good example. The visitor’s first goal was a lucky one, but the second one was purely because of a defensive error by Gerrard Pique, who lost the ball and then was to slow to recover it. The Spanish international has been poor this season, and hasn’t really been the defender he used to be.
Another veteran who isn’t playing his best is Dani Alves. The right back for years, he has been the unsung hero of Barcelona. The key feature of the Brazilian was his crossing and work rate. But after the change of tactics by the new manager, he has had a less role in attacking and has struggled to cope with it. With all of this, Barcelona has even declared that they don’t need his services anymore and has not offered him a contract which expires at the end of the season. This has had quite an effect on the coach’s mind which may be a factor and given the transfer ban, Barca may come to regret this decision.
The other full back Jordi Alba has been a busy player this season. The 25 year old has been a live wire in attack. But his defensive abilities are pretty under developed. Often running with the ball in opposition half, he leaves spaces at the back, which is most of the times exploited by the opposition.
Also, a major reason why Barcelona is leaking goals is because of the poor form of Javier Mascherano. The Argentinean is known for his footballing genius and hard work and had performed exceptionally well during the World Cup. But after being named Barcelona’s player of the year, the fatigue has finally taken a toll on him. The way he was beaten by Torres for the first goal in the Copa del Rey match clearly showed that the center back was out of sorts. And being the leader of the defense, he has also failed to organize Barca’s back four.
On a positive note, all the problems can be worked out, and Jérémy Mathieu has been a good signing. The Frenchman has been a major wall at the back for Barcelona and also has helped the team, both in attacking as well as defending them. Jordi Alba is young, and has pace and with a little work on the training ground, he can be great defender as well.
Barcelona’s brilliance in attacking aspect of the game has so far shadowed their defensive troubles. But if manager does not act fast, these will be exposed against the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City. With a crucial time in the start of the season, Luis Enrique will need his all 11 players to perform well to continue the winning run.
Edited By Akanksha Agarwal