Ever since Guardiola took over Barcelona he has/had his fair share of critics. Astoundingly, this has continued despite Pep becoming one of the most successful coaches of Barcelona ever. The main argument critics’ use is that Guardiola inherited a supremely gifted team from his predecessor, Frank Rijkaard.
What I plan to do with this series of articles is compare the teams of Rijkaard and Guardiola with each other, and choosing a winner from each match up. This should finally convince some of these critics that they are wrong. Everyone else, enjoy!
My first comparisons between the teams of both managers are the keepers. Well, just one of them.
It’s Victor Valdes vs. Victor Valdes.
This is not a problem though as I will compare the 2010 incarnation with the 2006 model. Obviously, the difference between the two is small, but I feel that Valdes has matured greatly over this time.
For example, in 2006, Valdes was much likelier to cost Barcelona points.
Now, I think he wins the team those points instead.
This is because of his increased confidence in his abilities as a goalie. He will command his area on incoming crosses as opposed to being a liability to them. It is also down to the work rate of everyone in Pep’s team.
Before, attacking players at Barcelona were not told to track back; this meant the defence were put under much more pressure. Now, Lionel Messi & co. will pressure high up the pitch, which causes the opposition to lose possession earlier thus making an attack less likely.
In this scenario, this should have made Valdes more susceptible to concede as he is rarely called into action. It’s quite the contrary, the opposite happens and the concentration that Valdes shows is remarkable.
Furthermore, Valdes has won two Zamora trophies (for best keeper in La Liga) in the two seasons under Pep Guardiola, a much better ratio than his one Zamora in five seasons under Frank Rijkaard.
So in the first match-up between the teams of Guardiola and Rijkaard, the sextuple winning team is the victor! (Get it?)
Winner: 2010 Victor Valdes