Can Josep Maria Bartomeu survive Barcelona’s crisis?

What a season it’s been for FC Barcelona!

At the beginning of the campaign, during the curtain raiser to each season, the Joan Gamper Trophy, Lionel Messi apologised for the collapse against Liverpool.

He also noted that the Catalans would be challenging again for the Champions League and the other top prizes on offer.

But it’s safe to say that things haven’t quite gone according to plan. Continue reading

Why Neymar returning to Barcelona is a no-go

Not long now until the transfer merry-go-round spins in earnest.

In fact, the rumours are already in full swing and there’s still the best part of three months until the window opens again!

As clubs across Europe go looking for bargains, there are one or two that need to make a statement signing to send shivers down their opponent’s spines. Continue reading

Is Sergio Busquets’ time up at Barcelona?

As Barcelona wind down another LaLiga season, question marks will again be asked over certain players.

Players who, despite their seniority in the team, haven’t performed at the required level for the club, and for a consistent period, not just a game or two here and there.

Whilst it’s an unpalatable thought, sooner or later, the regeneration of the squad takes precedence over keeping the big names happy. Continue reading

3 players Barcelona could sell this summer

Every teams have cycles of success, and Barcelona’s has almost certainly ground to a halt recently.

That’s the time when there needs to be an overhaul of staff, in order to pump new energy into the group and give a renewed focus.

Though it will be a shame to see certain players leave, the club have to be ruthless. Continue reading

Lionel Messi looks tired and disinterested at Barcelona

Surely Barcelona’s supporters didn’t think it would end up like this.

Their best ever player, Lionel Messi, strolling around seemingly disinterested and looking as tired as he ever has.

Whatever the party line from him is, his body language doesn’t lie. Lionel Messi is not happy. Continue reading

Setien hasn’t had the desired effect at Barcelona

For months Barcelona’s fan base were urging the club’s board to dispense with the services of Ernesto Valverde.

The issue was not just the style of play not being what was expected, but that the team were looking tired and disinterested.

Eventually, after the Catalans were knocked out of the Spanish Super Cup, Valverde fell on his sword. Continue reading

3 things to look out for in El Clasico

So the day has finally arrived. El Clasico MK II is here.

And it’s been a long while since Barcelona and Real Madrid were so close in points terms going into the biggest club match in the world.

Just two points separate these La Liga behemoths, and the result could end up being decisive in the title race. Continue reading

Griezmann has to step up for Barcelona

Now, more than at any other time this season, Barcelona need Antoine Griezmann to hit the goal trail.

The former Atletico Madrid striker has had a reasonable start to life with the Blaugrana as his 13 goals in all competitions would attest, however, with Lionel Messi dropping more into the playmaker role, the goalscoring output will fall on the Frenchman.

In what is his preferred No.9 role, he can have no excuses. Continue reading

Is Martin Braithwaite the right man for Barcelona?

If all of the rumours are true, then Leganes centre-forward, Martin Braithwaite, will shortly become FC Barcelona’s new striker signing.

It’s a deal that’s come out of nowhere, and there can’t have been too many like it. The reigning champions of the Spanish top flight signing a player from a club who are battling relegation.

Braithwaite’s goals to games ratio isn’t great either, but there is some sense to his hire nonetheless. Continue reading

Unheralded Sergi Roberto continues to prove his worth for Barcelona

Sergi

Due to his incredible adaptability to operate in so many different positions, such as a central midfielder, winger or fullback, and his undoubted all-round quality, Sergi Roberto continues to prove his worth to Barcelona.

And under Quique Setien’s tenure, he’s shown what a vital asset he is to the tactically sophisticated technician’s plans, with him giving his manager much flexibility as to how best deploy him and his team in general.

Operating at right back, a role he’s now extremely familiar with, for Barca’s crunch clash with Getafe, Roberto once again put in shift littered with upside, in a match where he notably scored his first league goal since 2017.

Despite Barcelona dominating possession for large chunks, third placed Getafe still posed a major threat offensively with their transitions, physicality and nous upfront. So Roberto had to be on his game to handle this threat, which he was, dealing with whatever came his was quite comfortably indeed.

Facing off against talented Barca loanee, Marc Cucurella, Roberto certainly won the battle, for he defended with conviction and awareness to keep his adversary quiet. Good in 1v1s, tracking runs attentively, strong in aerial duels and timing his challenges cleanly, the 28-year-old hardly put a foot wrong, thus ensuring Cucurella struggled to have his usual impact.

When not directly marking Cucurella, Roberto remained positionally secure, as he’d recognise when to tuck infield to ensure compactness, step out, drop back, shift across or support his defenders.

The fact he chimed in with eight ball recoveries, three interceptions, two clearances and won two aerial duels punctuated his strong output.

Meanwhile, on the offensive side of things, Roberto was customarily assured in possession, stroking around the ball tidily to connect, construct and break the lines when the opportunity arose. Two footed and boasting fine vision, the Spaniard’s ability to remain unfazed by pressure to combine with his teammates to get away from danger or to find the free man was a big plus against Getafe’s fierce pressure.

Image 1 - Superb incisive pass to play in a teammate

Superb incisive pass to play in a teammate

Without question, however, his most striking contribution came from his wonderful forward bursts. Curling and timing his runs superbly so he could remain onside while exploiting the blindside of his marker, he added valuable width and depth to Barca’s attacks. Credit must go to the likes of Frenkie De Jong and Antoine Griezmann especially, for they drew their trackers narrow to generate openings for Roberto to explore.

Image 2 - Brilliantly timed blindside run in behind

Brilliantly timed blindside run in behind

Image 3 - Sublimely timed run in behind to take advantage of the space

Sublimely timed run in behind to take advantage of the space

Image 4 - Wonderful depth run as he catches Getafe off guard

Wonderful depth run as he catches Getafe off guard

Image 5 - Cucurella getting drawn inside which frees up Roberto to receive

Cucurella getting drawn inside which frees up Roberto to receive

Image 6 - Providing a great outlet for the switch

Providing a great outlet for the switch

Indeed, his goal offered a glowing testament to his aptitude here, with him angling his out-to-in blindside run smoothly to evade his marker before finishing with aplomb on his left foot.

Image 7 - Fantastic blindside run to get free before finishing

Fantastic blindside run to get free before finishing

Some other ways he unbalanced Jose Bordalas’ men came courtesy of his slick underlapping runs and rotations with Griezmann, which posed dilemmas for Getafe on who should mark who. His high and wide positioning also saw him available for quick switches of play, where he often found himself in a 2v1 overload with Antoine Griezmann or a 3v2 superiority to get at the away team.

Image 8 - Helping form a 2v1 out wide with Griezmann

Helping form a 2v1 out wide with Griezmann

Image 9 - Forming the free man as Barca form a 3v2

Forming the free man as Barca form a 3v2

When looking at his offensive numbers, and they were solid too, as he completed 41 of 46 attempted passes, five of six attempted passes into the box and final third, two shot assists, two dribbles and two touches inside the box.

After yet another accomplished display by the regularly unheralded Barca utility, this will do wonders for the heavily derided figure’s confidence, who regularly comes in for rather harsh criticism.

With such a massive period ahead that includes the Clasico against Real Madrid, their Champions League tie with Napoli and a tough contest with Real Sociedad, you can guarantee Setien will value his presence no matter where he decides to deploy him.

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