It was bound to happen eventually, FC Barcelona have lost. Yes, your eyes are not playing tricks on you; you don’t need to see your optician the Pep squad has been defeated by Segunda side Betis Sevilla.
But it is one of those rare occurrences where one could argue that the defeat serves as blessing in disguise. Although the Blaugrana were almost played off the park (yes, Barca’s performance was that bad), FC Barcelona were never in risk of jeopardizing their semi-final spot for the Copa del Rey. It was largely due to their fantastic outing in the first leg, that the Blaugrana could afford to take the return fixture "lightly".
Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola decided to field a strong XI against Betis Sevilla. Luckily for every Culé, FC Barcelona were spared an embarrassing exit against a lower division side, Real Madrid anyone?
Even though Pep’s FC Barcelona is universally praised as the best football side anywhere on the globe, and rightfully so, it doesn’t prevent complacency. Once again the casual spectator is reminded why football is called the beautiful game, anyone can lose.
However, FC Barcelona wouldn’t be considered one of the best sides of all-time if it weren’t for the ability of Lionel Messi & Co. to bounce back after a defeat. After their mid-week slip-up the Blaugrana recorded their 14th straight win in the league at the expense of Racing Santander. Among the players who got on the score sheet in the 3-0 victory, Andres Iniesta. It appears as ever since he scored the World Cup clinching goal, San Andres has become a lot more confident goal-getter.
Fc.Barcelona 3 - 0 Racing de Santander
El Illusionista has always been an outstanding dribbler paired with the impeccable ability to pick a pass but now he is adding goal-scoring to his already extraordinaire skill-set. If he continues to score at this rate, he’ll accumulate 10-15 goals this season. Save for another season-ending injury, Andres Iniesta is one of the major challengers for next year’s Ballon d’Or. One can only wonder whether Andres Iniesta has already reached his ceiling or is just getting started. Sky’s the limit.
Off the field, the Philosopher himself, Pep Guardiola, had reason to celebrate….his 40th birthday! At 40 years of age, Pep has already won everything there is to win in world football bar international titles with the national squad. Hopefully the board of FC Barcelona grants him his wish and secure the services of contract rebel Dani Alves beyond 2013. Imagine a Barca squad without the hyperactive Brazilian. It gives me the creeps just thinking about it.
Sandro Rosell, FC Barcelona doesn’t need Cesc Fabregas, the Blaugrana need Dani Alves! Thiago Alcantara is the future; at least the shortsighted board resolved the uncertainty surrounding the promising youngster. The "pearl of La Masia" will join FC Barcelona’s first team at the beginning of the 2011/2012 season on a permanent basis.
Can Thiago be compared to Cesc Fabregas? Um, no. The latter is already a world-class player thus any comparison at this stage is ridiculous. Has Thiago the potential to become a world-beater in his own right? The answer is a firm YES. The potential acquisition of Arsenal London’s Cesc Fabregas would only stall the development of Thiago.
Even though both, Rijkaard and Guardiola, have a fine track record when it comes to promote and nurture La Masia youngsters I’d rather entrust Pep with the development of Thiago. In our Rijkaard Vs. Guardiola series, the latter appears to have found a way to further improve the ability of his players.
Well, let’s see what the future holds for Pep Guardiola, the Blaugrana and of course the bright prospects from La Masia.
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¡Visca el Barça!