If I had to choose a word to describe both matches of the Supercopa between Barcelona and Sevilla, it would have to be concise; a terse statement made succinctly by precision and aggression. Much reduced was much of the cacophonous overplaying Barcelona sometimes overuses. While our mellifluous possession play is oftentimes breathtaking, sooner or later a deadly thrust is essential. Watching Barcelona dismantle an opponent’s defense, or breakout from their own ten-yard box with exquisitely precise one-touch passing is massively entertaining. The only blemish in this otherwise immaculate mien lies in those instances when the ball is passed around endlessly without producing an actual dangerous occasion.
I understand the reluctance in being perhaps “over aggressive” and losing possession, as Barcelona would then most likely suffer from a potentially devastating counterattack. With the team’s style of play, losing possession while attacking would always present this drawback. Thus the insistence of many in having a sound, stalwart defense. Alas, possession can be lost just as easily passing it around as it can be from a direct, penetrating pass or cross, and only the latter constitutes a higher probability of scoring. These past couple of games against Sevilla illustrated just how successful a more forceful approach can be, vis-à-vis more penetrating passing.
The new youngsters procured by the team proved to be, in this regard, quite audacious. Their willingness to make the hard decision instead of taking the easy way out showed how truly fearless they are. Yes, many of their passes might have been intercepted or unsuccessful, but they kept pushing the envelope. I admit, I might have subconsciously winced more than once at seeing André Gomes give Messi a pass that pushed the little genius perhaps a bit too much, but I was loving the aggression. And, frankly, I believe Messi was as well, as he was playing the game with undisguised pleasure.
Lucas Digne was, again, stolid in defense and incisive in attack, relentlessly crossing the ball into the box, even when his first few attempts were blocked. He could have just as easily realized it wasn’t his night and reduced his passing to simple drop-backs to his midfielders or forwards. His persistence led to a goal. André Gomes attempted more danger-inducing plays than he did regular passes. Hyperbole? Yes, but just barely. Denis Suárez showed the flashes of brilliance that led to him being one of the most lauded acquisitions in the summer window for Barcelona; a spark that if fanned will grow into a raging inferno. Even our newest centreback showed his deft touch on the ball with some astounding vision, and ice in his veins.
Granted, in this team the culture of being a strong passer and good with the ball is so pervasive, even our goalkeepers produce some mind-blowing connections. Yet you can only go to the well so much until it is dry, which is why these recent purchases are outstanding. The current path Barcelona is on is terrific, and I for one am terribly excited.