Itai??i??s all rosy. Itai??i??s all nice. Vilanovaai??i??s Barcelona have gone on to start their league campaign on a perfect note with only a couple of points dropped against Real Madrid. More has been made of this because their strongest competitor has gone on to stumble against the lesser teams and is trailing by a huge margin of 8 points. This, however, isnai??i??t exactly the situation. FC Barcelona need to address some really pressing concerns, which in course of time will be exploited by the big guns of Europe.

Defense

This is no rocket science. FC Barcelona has no defense in the absence of Puyol. Literally. Pique is good but quite a few shades below a world-class defender. Mascherano has scored very few goals in Barcelona colours ai??i?? all against Barcelona. So much for being a (make-shift) centre-back. And Alex Song is just a few months old and in all fairness needs time to showcase his best. Daniel Alves too has been erratic of late.

Not quite the Alves we are used to seeing

Brazil has had great players in that position and the fact that Alves is right up there with the top dogs, testifies his ability and itai??i??d be an understatement to say that he has been an important member of the Barcelona team that rewrote history. However, itai??i??s been sometime that we have not seen the Alves who owned the right flank with Lionel Messi. Fans will be less worried about his age and injuries and more about his attitude. The hunger to win and win in style seems to be missing and in Martin Montoya, Barcelona perhaps have a good replacement. And with nouveau riche clubs like PSG and Zenit, hot on heels, a move to France or Russia isnai??i??t unlikely. And in all fairness, the 30 million defender, once tagged as over-priced, has repaid every penny with his performance over the years and fans have no reason to be aggrieved if he seeks an opportunity to move to a club which would allow him to retire with a bigger pay check. After all, Alves isnai??i??t getting any younger, Barcelona cannot afford his heavy remuneration, and he will still get the Catalan club a decent price. A perfect win-win. Until then, he will still be cherished as the best right back on the planet, who just needs to get his act right.

Jordi Alba is a prodigy. He is 23 and is already a crucial member of the Spanish National Team ai??i?? a team which is right up there with the best teams of history. This in itself is testimony enough to endorse the little fullback. However, much was made of his intended arrival and the impact it would have with Alves on the other flank. As a matter of fact, fans around the globe are yet to see their magic unfold together. On their day if the double duo of Alba-Iniesta and Alves-Messi work to their potential, then perhaps even aircrafts wonai??i??t be good enough from stopping them from finding the back of the net.

But that day is yet to come. Alba, who started as a left-sided midfielder, later to be converted to a defender by Emery at Valencia, also has an ambitious side to his game. The gamble of having an extra man in offense is always there, but the cost might just be a bit too high, especially in the later stages of knock-out competitions. Moreover, Alba isnai??i??t exactly a physically imposing defender and the goal conceded against Celtic bears testimony that a slight frame will prove detrimental at times.

The flipside of having a Jordi Alba is that the defense is a bit exposed and albeit Alba does make up for his over-ambition with blistering pace and stamina, more often than not, itai??i??s too little too late. Adriano on the other hand has been handed over the responsibility at the centre of defense and it’s evident that the Brazilian has to curb his natural instinct to attack.

Perhaps it is time for the club to enter the market in search of a proper centre-back ai??i?? tall, strong and a keen sense of positioning and passing. Itai??i??s quite noticeable that when Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol arenai??i??t there on the pitch, Valdes is a little hesitant to indulge in ground passes. He targets the wings with his long shots, which stand the risk of losing possession. In this regard, going after a defender of the calibre of Matts Hummels does make a lot of sense. The Dortmund defender is tall, elegant, and powerful and is one of the few ball-playing defenders in the market who fit the Barcelona style of football. More importantly, he is German ai??i?? with a never-say-die attitude hardwired. With the Captain Caveman in the twilight of his character, the Barca defense needs such characters. Of course, the availability of academy rookies like Marc Bartra will only increase competition and that is one headache, which Vilanova certainly wonai??i??t mind.

Alexis Sanchez

When he was bought last year for an obscene sum of money, expectations were indeed sky-high. Things have changed, and Alexis is perhaps being targeted by mid-table clubs in England. Such is life. While the Chilean is upbeat about his future at the club and even Leo Messi has put his faith on the Chilean, itai??i??s unlikely that Barcelona will not relent to offers (which are good enough) for the former Udinese forward, next summer. Pep Guardiola, despite all his heroics, has not exactly been prudent in the transfer market. Perhaps, Alexis is yet another testimony of this. Not that he isnai??i??t a great player, but maybe he isnai??i??t the player that Barcelona need.

Alexisai??i?? biggest strength is his speed and ability to stretch the opposition defense so much so that they lose their defensive shape and be exploited by a key figure in the offense. Undeniably, the key figure in the Barcelona offense is Lionel Messi and the diminutive Argentine doesnai??i??t operate in the usual way other taller strikers do. Alexisai??i?? job changed from breaking compact defenses to poking holes in them and he is yet to figure that one out.

Things might just look all gloomy for the Chilean, but the silver lining is that the brand of football that Vilanovaai??i??s Barcelona play is more conducive to Alexisai??i?? natural style than Guardiolaai??i??s Barcelona. Nonetheless, the former Udinese star will still have to prove to his worth in a line-up comprising Cesc Fabregas, David Villa, Pedro, Iniesta and most importantly Lionel Messi.

Possible Transfer Targets In Future

It is extremely premature to talk about transfers, just 3 months into the season. It is however a necessity, given the players’ propensity to injuries and oppositions’ tendency to sit back deep and hit on the counter. When Guardiola took over, football changed forever. The style advocated by one of Cruyffai??i??s favourite pupils rewrote history and the team won all six competitions that year. Nevertheless, teams around Europe and the globe have dissected the Barca-style of football like never before and the likes of Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid and very recently Celtic has come up with measures that can curb the overtly offensive outfit and it them on the counter.

Vilanovaai??i??s Barcelona is not very different from Guardiolaai??i??s brainchild. However, they do diverge in some key areas. The nucleus of the team is still the same. Perhaps the inclusion of a couple of specialists along with imbibing a couple of Barca B players in the first team will hold the team in good stead for the future.

Liverpool_Daniel Agger

Should Vilanova step-up the pursuit?

Statistics from WhoScored say that this term, Barcelona conceded more shots on target (9.3 shots per match) and also conceded more goals than under Pep. The possession however remains the same and this is worrying as teams are now creating more chances and scoring more than they could do against Guardiola. Vilanovaai??i??s Barcelona mainly focus on outscoring the opposition, although this approach has to be attributed to the untimely injuries to Pique and Puyol. Ergo, it is perhaps time to get a new centre-back (Matts Hummels, as discussed above) and promote and play Marc Bartra regularly. Dortmund have been phenomenal for the past few seasons and under the tutelage of JA?rgen Klopp, Neven Subotic and Matts Hummels too have been exceptional. This indicates that the German defender wonai??i??t be cheap. In the wake of extreme competition from the likes of the Chelseas and the PSGs and the Manchester Citys, Barcelona might just be forced to look beyond Hummels. This is where the likes of Nicolas N’Koulou (Olympique Marseille) and Benedikt HAi??wedes (Schalke 04) come in. Better still, the club might just step-up their pursuit for the Liverpool defender ai??i?? Daniel Agger, on whom they lost out this summer. This suits all interested parties as Agger is not only highly experienced and in his own right a top-notch footballer, but also at 27 will give the Barcelona defense enough time to churn out prospects from La Masia. Agger has been with Liverpool for 7 years now and has not quite won enough. Moreover, this season too, the teamai??i??s form isnai??i??t something spectacular either. The 30-approacing Danish international might just want to go the Thierry Henry-way to add to his medal tally. Agger, with his prudence, touch and a hammer of a left foot, will be an asset to any team and FC Barcelona isnai??i??t any exception.

Barcelona scouts might just have their task cut out but a pretty interesting prospect will be the arrival of Sergio Ramos from arch-rivals Real Madrid to Camp Nou. Although it might sound preposterous, thereai??i??s some rationale behind such a romantic apparition and it isnai??i??t unfounded. The mercurial Spaniard is not in the best of terms with his manager and has had quite a belligerent relationship with his national team colleagues from FC Barcelona. Del Bosque, Iker Casillas and Xavi have finally managed to resolve all the differences and this time Ramos has (perhaps) fallen out with his fiery manager Jose Mourinho over a lot of issues (usually behind closed doors). And to add fuel to fire, the cheeky Rosell, added that albeit the move might sound unlikely, itai??i??s not impossible. Whether Ramos gets to wear the hallowed Blaugrana colours is a question, which doesnai??i??t have any answer to right now, however, the answer isnai??i??t a ai???NOai??i?? either.

Vilanova has got a lot to deal with. Recurrent injuries, accusations, mind games, drop of form and so on. His greatest test will be however against Barcelona itself ai??i?? the behemoth created by Guardiola. Winning all six trophies might just not be possible again, however, thatai??i??s one fond memory which only Cules round the globe are entitled to enjoy. Vilanova is serious about his approach and his conviction is noticeable in the subtle yet decisive changes that he has incorporated in the Barcelona gameplay. Many even ask whether Vilanova has already surpassed Guardiola with the best ever start in the league for Barcelona. It is just a matter of time for the answer to be right in front of us. Till then the fans must stay calm and believe in Vilanova.

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5 Responses to “FC Barcelona Need To Address Pressing Concerns”

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  1. Adebisi kazeem says:

    Barcelona needs changes in defence,bcos that is d area which they lack now.

  2. lucky says:

    Mats hummels, dejan lovren, and yanga mapou mbiwa culd make it at barca next season

  3. Prince Njoku says:

    I am very delighted to go through this analysis, much of the analysis centered that Barca should sign a defender, but let us not forget that goalkeeper is needed. If Barca rely on Valdes they may not carry any trophy this season.

  4. Agbor nzan says:

    I wish to congratulate tito and entire for such performance in modern football without natural defenders.To reduce the budern on defend and aviod conceding barcelona need to be more agreesive in the mitfield and attack with long-range shots.This will make the opponent not thick of counter due to presure.

  5. Thando says:

    Indeed Barca do need a solid defance particulary centre backs… Puyol can retire any time now nd injury concerns, Goolkeeper its urgent Barca need to get a goal keeper Valdes not good enough for Barca maybe Pinto is even better they need to get a Goolkeeper or atleast rotate goalkeepers to also give Pinto a chance to prove himself