There’s been too much gloom and doom with regards to Barcelona’s defence for as far back as one can remember. The last time that the defence was reinforced to the point of amelioration, Pep Guardiola was making some massive changes to the roster, with the likes of Piqué, Cáceres and Alves moving into the club, and the likes of Zambrotta, Edmilson, Thuram and Oleguer departing back in the 08/09 season. He followed up on his project by bringing in Chygrynskiy, Maxwell, Mascherano and Adriano in the following two seasons as head coach.
Of the names mentioned above, only Piqué, Mascherano and Alves continued to remain instrumental to the squad, to the point where they formed three quarters of the defence in Luis Enrique’s gala XI; Jordi Alba, brought under the tutelage of Tito Vilanova to complete that defence, returns after a woeful 15/16 campaign. Luis Enrique however has upped the ante by bringing in a host of new players to fill the holes in the back-line; Lucas Digne was brought in to compete with Alba for the left-back spot, and despite the other lateral position being entirely makeshift, being composed of Aleix Vidal and Sergi Roberto, there is still hope that the players are going to exceed expectations.
Between Alba and Digne, the coach has a serious selection headache; the ability to pick his man out using intelligent and accurate crossing along with his aerial prowess has made Digne an instant fan-favourite. With Alba out for the entire preseason, there is little doubt that Lucas Digne is one of the first names on the team sheet.
On the other wing, things get interesting as Vidal and Roberto have been going toe-to-toe, with both putting in strong performances in pre-season. Both players are battling for their place on the squad, as there is little room left on a roster that is absolutely packed with quality. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, the competition is heating up and each player brings their own style to the role, leaving the choice to Luis Enrique as to which player better complements his squad. If I had to pick one, I would pick Vidal, as he adds more value to the squad offensively with his dribbling, pace and crossing; his performance in the second leg of the Supercopa was decent enough to warrant an opportunity in the league opener.
Barça’s defence continues to remain controversial, with the club’s stance to not bring in any reinforcements on the right side, this season, and while the idea of a leaky defence is scary, looking at the kind of contention for every single minute of playing time on this current roster, the upcoming season is looking more exciting than ever.