FC Barcelona kicked off their 2013 Tour of Asia with a bang yesterday, defeating the Thailand National Team 7-1 at the National Stadium in Bangkok. A hat-trick from Pedro, a brace from Lionel Messi and a goal apiece for Barca new-boy Neymar and "in-form" Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez secured the emphatic win for the Blaugrana; but really it was the overall performance that will have left Gerardo Martino feeling confident ahead of the new season.
Admittedly, the opposition were far from world-class, but Martino will still take many positives from this encounter; for example, Barcelona maintained a high-line and pressed just as ferociously as they did against Santos -- that's in spite of the heat and humidity. Perhaps in years gone by, Barca would have eased off a little, rested on their laurels against an inferior opponent, but not this time round, at least not under Gerardo Martino. And that is a promising sign. If Barcelona can maintain that level of pressure in an unforgiving climate, then one might suggest that they can keep it up over the course of a season -- provided Martino rotates the squad as efficiently as he has been doing in his brief pre-season.
Speaking of rotation and in defense of Tito Vilanova, just who exactly could Tito have rotated into the line-up? Of course, he had plenty of options, but the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Pedro; even the departed Thiago; none of them were ever really "on-form". So, any rotation would have likely affected the strength of the line-up; but now (even if it is only pre-season) each and every member of the squad looks to be full of confidence, and playing at the peak of their powers -- and I would argue that that, the form of the entire squad, is just as important to squad rotation as any manager is.