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FC Barcelona 2011/12 Season in Review: Cesc Fàbregas

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Note: I know the 2012-2013 La Liga season is just around the corner but I didn't have time to finish this series so I'll try to accomplish this before the start of the season. Sorry for the delay.

Report: After the 2010-2011 season ended the Cesc Fabregas saga began once again. But unlike in previous seasons this time it actually unfolded as Cesc joined FC Barcelona. Some were saying he was only going to be a bench-warmer with the Catalan club but he proved the doubters wrong becoming an instant hit.

Cesc started the season as one of the hottest players on the planet scoring 14 goals and being directly involved in many others in only 21 appearances. All that while playing at a new position for him - the false No. 9. Fabregas immediately found a connection with Lionel Messi and the two appeared to be finding each other every game creating numerous scoring chances.

One couldn't have hoped for a better (re-)start to Cesc's Barcelona career but as the season reached the second half the scoring touch faded. He couldn't score a goal even if he was standing in front of an empty net which led to Cesc becoming increasingly frustrated. Opposing goalkeepers also appeared to make their best saves when Fabregas was trying to find the back of the net which didn't help Cesc's confidence.

Fabregas scored only one goal after January 8th despite appearing in all but six games since that date. He was still involved with many goals and his passing remained good which was the reason he wasn't benched in more games by Pep Guardiola.

If Cesc would spread all the goals and assists over a full season we would all say that this season was very good by anyone's standards. But with the majority coming in the first half of the year one can't help but to have a bad taste in the mouth and think would happen if Cesc would continue even at half the pace he set for himself in the 2011 part of the season.

Sam Cooper's View: For me, Cesc had a season of two halves. After completing his dream move back to Barça, Fàbregas unearthed a goal scoring talent previously hidden and was allowed to play higher up the pitch, just behind Messi. Fàbregas said in an interview that the reason he played so high was because Pep told him to become used to the style of Barça again surrounded by Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. He essentially gave Cesc a free role until he sharpened his craft.

But it is well known Cesc's goals dried up in the latter stages of the season. Not because his performances dropped but because he picked up his defensive duties which limited his opportunities. As a whole I think Cesc had an average to good season, a highlight being his goal against Porto, and I believe with a full pre-season, which he did not get last season, behind him he will blossom next season.

Moment of the Season: For Cesc the moment of the season was undoubtedly sealing the move from Arsenal back to Barcelona but we'll keep this one on the pitch where all the potential candidates for the MoS come from the seasons first half. My pick is Cesc's "nail in the coffin" goal in just his second appearance for Barcelona. Cesc, set up brilliantly by Messi, scored the second goal in Barça's 2-0 victory against Porto in the UEFA Super Cup.

Cesc Fabregas Goal UEFA Super Cup Final 2011 (via SKELLINGTON01)

Stats:

Appearances 48
Games started 38
Started on the bench 18
Substitute in 10
Substitute out 23
Minutes played 3433
Goals scored 15
Assists 20
Shots 74
Shots on goal 37
Fouls committed 40
Fouls suffered 81
Yellow cards 8
Red cards 0

Record with Cesc Fabregas in the starting lineup: 29-8-1

2012/13 Outlook: Cesc will continue to get many minutes on the pitch but at what position he will be used the most remains to be seen. He could see time as a false forward or a central midfielder. Could he even get some playing time at defensive midfielder with the lack off depth at that position? It's unlikely but it is an option one has to consider. But regardless where he plays Cesc will be a valuable player for Barcelona next season.

Next Up: Thiago Alcântara