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A CHINK IN THE ARMOR? THE CATALAN GIANTS ENDURE SOME INJURIES AND ARE OFF TO A 4th PLACE START
Posted By Timothy Ashe Jr. On Oct 6 2010 @ 9:21 am In LFP | 2 Comments
Some people may think I’m a bit crazy for wanting to say that the famed la liga masters are in some trouble, but let’s review some facts. Barcelona or Barca as they’re so cooly called in the football world currently sits in 4th place in La Liga. Barca almost tallied 100 points in la liga last year and still set the all time record for points narrowly beating Real Madrid. The season before (Pep Guardiola’s first), Barca won an unprecedented 6 trophies that year, including the Champions and World Club Champions leagues. So far this year, Barca has struggled against a newly promoted team, Hercules (from Alicante) and a lower table team, Sporting Gijon.
The true Barca fans have noticed a difference this year, just as many scoring opportunities but less dazzling finishes. Pep Guardiola is not only having trouble in La Liga but Barca recently drew with Rubin Kazan, a Russian team, after the first leg of the Champions League. Ironically enough, they had quite the time getting through Rubin Kazan last year as well. Barca desperately needs the International break to find their form again. After a 1-1 draw to Mallorca, and with other dangerous squads like Real Madrid, Villarreal and 1st place Valencia looking like they are in good form, there is some cause for worry in Cataluña. And, you may say, “This madridista is out of his mind, we’ve dominated the possession in most games, and still have 13 points”. Let me say one word, “injuries”. Pedro will be out three weeks with a hamstring injury. Messi’s ankle may still be bothering him after his 10 days off. Xavi is still sidelined with a hamstring issue and hopes to be back before the epic battle that will take place October 17th against Valencia. Barca’s team is not known for its physicality. Abidal, Puyol, and Pique are strong players but they are more known for technique and system management.
A couple other things to consider besides the injuries: Villa has scored 2 goals but seems to be feistier this year and was already held out a game for slapping a player. Hopefully this is a “score a lot of goals temper” to mimic that of his world cup performance instead of him taking out his aggressions with girly slaps to the face of opposing players. This year, there’s no more Ibra, No Marquez, and no Hleb. All had had enough of Pep’s system. Robinho looks like he’d rather play in Italy so forget about that transfer. I sincerely believe Pique has a secret desire to return to England since he’s constantly being courted by EPL teams where he could make more money. Fabregas seems content at Arsenal even with the constant media attention and other barca players nagging at him to return to his homeland. Adriano looks lost. Maserchano has not made a big impact thus far. Bojan just signed a contract through 2015 for some big money. This could be motivation for him to score goals because he realizes the club not fully trusts him or he may view it as a time to relax since he’ll be paid up for the next 5 years and realizes Barca has plenty of strikers. Murinho appears to be lingering in Pep’s mind. Cristiano went off this past weekend and don’t think Pep’s not watching every Real Madrid game. Maybe Pep will be unaffected by the renewed Real Madrid pressure since he’s ready to move to Arsenal next year.? What motivation does Pep since he’s won every possible trophy in Spain anyways? Some may quip that Pep grew up with the Barca club, played for it, and loves to live and die for the club every day. Time will tell. Let’s not forget there’s more overall strength in La Liga this year, too. Barca has a new President in Sandro Rosell who replaced the ever so cocky and debonair Joan Laporta this past summer. Laporta, albeit a real media ham, did make mostly good decisions for the club and took much of the media pressure off of Pep and the players. Unfortunately, he had other gubernatorial ambitions.
And the most important question. Can Messi score 34 goals again this year? Pep relies on the “little magician” every game. If he stays healthy, Barca could immediately start to dominate again. However, the next 3 matches include: Valencia (in 1st place and looking incredible), Zaragoza (played Barca well at the end of last year and desperate for a draw/win at the bottom of the table), and Sevilla (new trainer, very talented squad, passionate fan base). Pep has a little less than 2 months to put his boys in good position before “el clasico” at the end of November. If the Blaugrana continues to perform like this, I don’t think they’ll be close to that 100 point mark like they were last year.
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