FC Barcelona continued their unbeaten domestic run with a hard-fought win against a side which avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth. A wonderful volley from Xavi Hernandez and an own goal by Borja Gomez, both in the dying moments of the match, ensured that the Catalans avoided a disappointing result on the fifth gameweek of La Liga.

Many a times, the defence was unorganized and vulnerable and the attack lacked potency in front of the goal. TheHardTackle analyses what Tito Vilanova could change in the team in order to form a more cohesive unit that wonai??i??t struggle regularly against ai???Mickey Mouseai??i?? teams and help the them regain European and Spanish supremacy.

Play Cesc Fabregas in a deeper Role

When Cesc Fabregas was bought from Arsenal last summer, he was seen as the natural replacement for the ai???ageingai??i?? Xavi Hernandez and many critics even expected the then 24-year-old to push his apparent predecessor to the Barcelona bench.

However, fast-forward 12 months and ironically, Cesc Fabregas is still struggling to fit into the Barcelona-system of play and Xavi Hernandez is still the heartbeat of Barcelonaai??i??s midfield.Ai??However, one of the prime reasons for Fabregasai??i?? inability to produce the required goods has been Pep Guardiolaai??i??s and now Tito Vilanovaai??i??s tactic of playing the former Arsenal captain in an attacking role, alongside Lionel Messi and Alexis or Pedro.Ai??Frankly, even though his goal scoring record might have improved with this move, but Fabregas is not even moderately a good attacker. The Spain internationalai??i??s finishing is sub-par, pace not quite ai???lightning fastai??i?? and most importantly, he himself is not comfortable in playing in an attacking role.Ai??During his Arsenal stay, Fabregas was most effective, when used in a deep-lying or central midfield role. His passing and vision are one of the best in the game and playing as a forward doesnai??i??t allow him to use two of his best qualities.

Ergo, Tito needs to shift Fabregas back in the midfield, probably alongside Xavi and Sergio Busquets, in order to get the best out of the lad. From a deeper role, Fabregas could easily orchestrate Barcelonaai??i??s plays, become the attacking hub of the team and truly establish himself as the ai???next Xavi Hernandezai??i??.

Shift Lionel Messi back to the wings

A risky and an arguable point, however, for the benefit of the team and Messi himself, Tito needs to shift the Argentine back on the wings. The reason is quite plain and simple ai??i?? even though playing as the centre forward has turned him into a more effective and the best player on the planet, it has also drastically increased the burden and workload on the 25-year-old. Due to his central position, almost all of Barcelonaai??i??s midfielders and attackers look for Messi to start any attack, play the key pass and subsequently even end the move. If heai??i??s unable to do so, the entire team suffers. No one else is able to step up in Messiai??i??s place and Barcelona virtually transform into a barren team with a vague attack.

The likes of Sanchez and Fabregas barely even try to create any useful plays on the wings and have arguably become Barcelonaai??i??s poorest performers over the past 12 months or so.

Thus, due to the inefficiency of his teammates and excess burden on his shoulders, itai??i??ll be wise if Messi is given back the right winger role and either David Villa, Cristian Tello or even Gerard Deulofeu, is given the chance to lead the teamai??i??s attack.

This might just help the team in more than one way. First and foremost, shifting Messi to the right wing will provide the likes of Sanchez and Fabregas to improve upon their performances, contribute more to the teamai??i??s attack and finally justify their exorbitant price-tags.

Secondly, if Messi is shifted out to the right side, he wonai??i??t have the usual three-four defenders man-marking and running with and around him all the time and instead, he will only have to go head-to-head with one full-back. Even on his worst days, Messi is good enough to exploit any full-back in the game and even though he might not score the same number of goals from the wing as he does from his ai???false nineai??i?? position, but he will surely make Barcelonaai??i??s attack more dynamic and possibly as good as that of Real Madridai??i??s.

Yes, Tello and Andres Iniesta, who is currently on the treatment table, might be two players who try to assist Messi in breaking down the oppositionai??i??s defences and allowing him to play freely in the advanced position with relatively less pressure, itai??i??ll be interesting to see how the two will fare this season.

Tello still lacks the required composure and experience and is a little too one-dimensional; Iniesta, on the other hand, is coming off a taxing year of football and might not be able to last throughout the entire campaign without suffering more injuries.

Promote Marc Bartra and Gerard Deulofeu

As already mentioned, Barcelona lack forwards in their team and Gerard Deulofeu can solve this problem. The 18-year-old is considered as the best La Masia product after Lionel Messi and has the potential to break into Barcelonaai??i??s first team this season. The Spanish youngster is a typical ai???number nineai??i?? ai??i?? he possesses electrifying pace, great poaching abilities in front of the goal and can set up his teammates to score important goals.

This season, heai??i??s already scored four goals for Barcelona B in just three games and certainly looks like a player, good enough to break into the senior team.Ai??However, even though Deulofeuai??i??s promotion to the first team could put an end to Barcelonaai??i??s desperate search for a player to rival Lionel Messiai??i??s goal-scoring exploits, it is highly unlikely that the club will actually take this step due to lack of experience and age.

On the other hand, promoting Marc Bartra is a must for Barcelona now. With Pique and Puyol injured, Barcelona have no healthy central defender in the team right now. Even though, Mascherano and Alex Song have formed a new defensive partnership for the time-being, however, both of them are, at times, prone to silly errors and mistakes which might cost the team dearly in the long run.

Bartra has been a consistent performer for the reserve team over the past two seasons and is now good enough to play for the first team. His tackling is fairly decent and he is a good header of the ball too. Moreover, he can pass the ball quite well.Ai??His displays during the pre-season showed his true potential and his promotion is a risk that Barcelona should definitely take ai??i?? who knows, they might just get a long-term replacement for Carles Puyol, without spending a single dime in the transfer window.

The season has just started and thereai??i??s quite a long way to go right now. However, to avoid another disappointing season, Tito Vilanova needs to make some changes to the team and transform them into a more commanding unit.

The remedies might just sound risky, but one itai??i??s a risk worth taking. With an 11-point lead over Real Madrid and the European season off with a win, Barcelona should aim to build on this momentum by ensuring that the youngsters are given the required playing time. Players like Fabregas are played in their best suitable positions and Messi is not the only threatening attacker in the team.

By Guest Author ai??i?? Surya Solanki

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10 Responses to “FC Barcelona : Vilanova’s Remedial Measures!”

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  1. Wale kelly says:

    This author must be an anti-barca and anti-messi!

  2. Eric says:

    I strongly disagree with you on most of this article.

    Where did you get the idea that Cesc prefers a holding position? The article you linked to says nothing of the sort – it says he’ll play wherever required of him. There’s no question that he’s an adaptable player, but where has he shined? His best moments at Arsenal were as the focal point for their attack, making key passes, taking on players, and scoring goals. His biggest moments for Spain were as an attacking mid or a forward. His best results for us, so far, have been in the central role, swapping places with Messi – that’s where he scored goals for us last fall and where he performed well against Getafe.

    Moreover, promoting Deulofeu now is a surefire way to ruin him, put too much pressure on him and turn him into another Bojan. And you say he’s the solution to our attacking problems? You imply that Deulofeu then is better than Villa, Sanchez, and Pedro – are you mad? As for playing in a central role, if it came to pushing Messi out wide, both Sanchez and Villa are perfectly capable of that.

    The real issue is that Tito has changed the role of wingers. No longer are they inverted wingers, like with Pep, where Villa and Pedro would cut in centrally and shoot. Now they are more true wingers, which is why we see Sanchez getting trapped out wide but Tello shining, playing good crosses into the box. Messi can’t play as a true winger, either. So the problem is not with the players or positions, but Tito’s styles. But the season is young, he’s getting results, and we should wait and see how he evolves, not panic, move players around and try to undo everything we’ve built over the past few years.

    • messibra says:

      You Sir are a true Catalan, couldn’t say it better myself… Sorry to the Author, but from the time I read that u want Messi to go back to being on the wing I stopped reading ur article

    • Jayant says:

      ^ What Eric above me just said.

      For me, it seems the author doesn’t really watch Barcelona games. Cesc has been mediocre at best when playing the Xavi role for the simple reason that its not in his nature to hold position. Cesc has great technique but he is tactically average and is posotioning is a cause for concern. His best games have been either playing alongside Messi or in Messi’s position where he plays close to goal. It plays to his skillset and makes up for his mental and physical slowness. Go see the first half of Saturday’s game against Granada and notice how disjointed Barcelona was for the simple reason that we didn’t have a focal point in mid field. Messi dropped back countless times solely because both Cesc and Thiago would rush forward rather than hold position. On current ability, Thiago is a better bet for a deep lying mid field role than Cesc.

      As for promoting Deulofeu and handing him the attacking role, are you serious? I’m not sure how the author has watched of Deulofeu in actual games because Gerard is not ready for the first team let alone handling major attacking responsibilities. He is a wonderful talent and I have no doubt given time and guidance, he will turn out to be a great player but he still lacks intelligence. He is like a young Messi who loved to dribble and run into dead ends when passing was a better option only that even at 17, Messi was more skilful and intelligent than Gerard. The club is doing the right thing by taking their time with him lest you want another Bojan.

      As for playing Messi down the right, I will echo what Eric above me said. Tito’s system is more vertical than Pep’s and he likes his wingers to hold position outwide which is why Tello seems to be doing so well this season. Alexis played down the middle during his break out season at Udinese and will have to adapt to this new system which is why he has struggled. Shifting Messi to the right might give him more room to run at defenses but it will still leave the system too narrow and opposing defenders will still clog the midfield simply because everyone knows he will cut in. Barcelona looked so much better in the 2nd half with Pedro and Tello on purely because they are natural wide players who helped stretch the play.The width is what creates gaps for the likes of Messi/Iniesta/Cesc to exploit. You could see Pep trying to implement it last season and Tito has taken a cue from that. The season is young and players will adapt to their roles in due course of time. Have patience.

    • Surya Solanki says:

      Okay, Cesc himself has said that. Cesc clearly doesn’t have the pace and fishing skills for a forward. In a depper role, his passing skills and creativity could be more utilized. His best days were Arsenal when he played as a CENTRAL Midfielder, orchestrating the team’s play. When he swaps positions with Messi and plays in a central role, he might be able to create good chances, but he wastes a thousands of chances himself, somehting that actually costed Barca the game against Chelsea (if you remmember).

      I guess you haven’t read the article properly because I myself HAVE MENTIONED THAT Deulofeu won’t be promoted this term. This is just an opinion bec. I’ve watched almost all of FCB Reserves games and Deulofeu looks just a level above his teammates. Someone surely good enough for the 1st team.

      ‘Deulofeu then is better than Villa, Sanchez, and Pedro – are you mad?’

      Did I ever say that? No I didnt’. Villa is coming back from an eight month layoff and is 30 years old. DO you actually expect Tito to just straight away drift him into the starting 11 and risk anothet injury?

      Also, Pedro’s a better winger and Sanchez has been miserable so far. Hence, that’s why I wanted a no. 9 like Deulofeu to get promoted to the 1st team. Barcelona need some true poachers in front of goal, Sanchez is a hit-and-miss and Pedro surely cant play as a striker. You accuse me of not wathcing FCB’s games, well if you think that Sanchez is good enough to play as a STR, then I guess you’re the one who doesn’t watch their games.

  3. Cule says:

    I have to disagree on all points.

    Tito has been trying to rotate the midfield by playing Cesc as a replacement for Xavi. This is the cause of his recent performances. In the matches where he was once again positioned as a forward/false 9, he showed the same class we saw last season.

    Bartra is already promoted. Did you even do a proper research before writing this article?

    Deulofeu is a kid and still has to learn a lot. He will be a disaster in first team if the management pushes him into senior team before improving his team-play. Not to mention competition from the likes of Sanchez, Tello and Cuenca who are much better developed players than him. Gerard will rot in our squad without even making it to the bench on many occasions, which defeats the whole purpose of promoting him.

    Moving Messi back to the wings when he has been deadlier than ever before and scoring/assisting for fun? LOL

  4. samir julius says:

    I hundred percent agree with that author. Putting Messi back on the wings will be more effective than now, this is because, you will not get lot of defenders on the wings as compare to the middle. Moreover, Messi star or dribbling is on the left, and as long he is taking his drive on his left, he will automatically come right back in the center than the point striker will move on the right wing which will create space for Messi and Barcelona team and also create confusion for the opponent defenders. To conclude on Messi position as striker, I will say, it is not bad for messi to be in the middle of the park but you will notice that almost all the center midfielders and aggressive center back hold down to him because they are aware of his tactic, for Tito to be successful he need to change some position and bring in news tactic just like what pep did when he succeeded frank.

    I disagree with the writer to a point where Tito should take Gerard Deulofeu and make him a Starting point striker. Yes he can be the point striker but not a starting one, I will preferred Alexis as the point starting striker. This is because he is strong, have good speed, and also finished well. we saw it against real Madrid when he score the very important goal between two strong defenders, that goal prove his strength his pace and his ability to finish under pressure and tension.