ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 06: FC Barcelona celebrates a goal by David Villa #7 against Club America at Cowboys Stadium on August 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
I’m back again! Hopefully I won’t stir up the same kind of reaction as last week as I do with this subject.
FC Barcelona won their final pre-season game in the US on Saturday, leaving the States having lost two games and winning only one. We did not get a chance to see a whole lot of the first team as Pep decided to hand out minutes to the young B team players (and some were away after having just completed the Copa America!) . That’s all well and good. We like to see members of Barca B get some time on the pitch with the first team and on what better occasion to experiment than in a meaningless preseason friendly?
First and foremost on the importancy scale, we got to see newly promoted players; Andreu Fontas and Thiago Alcantara, show us what they’re made of so-to-speak. We all knew of Thiago’s promise as he was closely followed in the U-21 UEFA Championship. If you witnessed his winning goal in the final I’m sure you haven’t forgotten it.
Thiago made a big impact throughout the Audi Cup preseason tournament. He delivered a Man of the Match worthy performance in the Audi Cup final scoring a brace. After scoring one with his head, Thiago continued his wonder goal scoring by curling in a beautiful effort from 25 yards out to win Barca the Audi Cup.
When it came time for the Barca-Manchester United "re-match," the young midfielder continued to impress leveling the score from 25 yards out. Unfortunately the score was later unleveled by Michael Owen. Thiago didn’t have a very eventful match against Chivas. Substituted at half time, he, fortunately took no part in the embarrassing half of that match. Thiago showed no drop in confidence in the match against Club America, attempting a few ambitious shots at goal but missing each one.
Overall, using preseason as a measuring stick, Thiago looks very good. He has shown that he is most deserving and ready for promotion among his former fellow B teamers. It would seem, from these few games we’ve seen recently, that Thiago best partners Xavi in midfield (as opposed to Iniesta). I would assume that this is because Thiago is not quite ready to take up the task of orchestrating the midfield, if that is what he’s being groomed for, though his passing is very good. He’s also got more of an attacking flair than Xavi, more so than Iniesta as well. If for whatever reason Xavi is unavailable, Thiago could slot in for him. It would give Thiago more opportunities to perfect his creativity.
Some say that Thiago would be better suited for the "Iniesta role" for the long term. But who would fill the hole in the middle where Xavi now stands. There are whispers* about a CAM somewhere in North London who would better fill the "Xavi role."(though he’s more attack minded as well) This might be Peps big plan! It would make sense and fix the whole "If we get €£$€ what about Thiago?" issue. But Andres Iniesta is only 27 years old, not in need of a replacement just yet. Dilemma.
Thiago is not quite ready to take up the mantle of the midfield maestro, but I don’t think he was ever meant to be an immediate solution or quick fix. He’s a long term solution to the aging Xavi Hernandez. Given a couple of seasons with the first team he could be ready to take his spot, and by that time Xavi might well be ready to concede possession(a rarity)of that role to Thiago.
* Constant comments
Stay tuned for PART II on Fontas! Yeah get excited!
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