Barçelona fell to defeat once more this season, as they succumbed to refereeing decisions and their inability to finish chances when they mattered. Where did it all start to go wrong for Barcelona? Will the upcoming fixtures experience similar fortune? Will a new coach fix these issues?
Let's see if we can break things down...
Poor Squad Management:
Despite having been extensively active in the transfer market during the summer, Barça failed to address multiple issues in their starting line-up that has directly impacted their performance on multiple fronts. The inability to find a world-class replacement for Dani Alves, has forced the Catalans to utilise Sergi Roberto and Aleix Vidal as stop-gaps, compelling them to experiment during the business-end of the season. The influx of attacking midfielders in a team that doesn't utilise one is another questionable decision from the suits, which leaves many fans baffled beyond reason.
While the latter may or may not work, the very idea that the board failed to replace a club legend effectively is appalling.
Too Many Prospects:
The transfers of Paco Alcacer, André Gomes and Denis Suarez were made with an eye towards the future. However, the club and it's fans demand quick integration and success. All three players have a steep learning-curve before they make themselves useful to the squad, and are ill-equipped at the moment to fulfil their roles on the team effectively. While the players themselves are not bad, the fact that the club expected them to slot in instantaneously is another example of poor forecasting from the men behind the desks.
When one thinks of Barçelona, they usually think of absolute domination in midfield. The likes of Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta revolutionised midfield play, and gave world football arguably the greatest midfield trio of all time.
Things today however, are a far cry from those glory days.
Luis Enrique systematically went about his work through his debut season as coach, forcing the midfield to play more direct passes in order to supplement the star triumvirate of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar; the midfield was reduced to a washing machine that did everyone's dirty laundry—in a team like Barça where results come first, no one complained. The end-product was an untouchable team with a glimpse from the past and a dash of directness.
Cut to season three, and all that was good about the midfield two years ago has ceased to exist. Andres Iniesta rides the bench, Sergio Busquets plays like he's part of an under-staffed firm, and Ivan Rakitic is so hot and cold, he'd give Katy Perry's song a run for it's money.
There are no alternatives in hand. Barça has played all it's best moves, but has failed to make a lasting impact in the middle of the park.
The tactics have been awful, there is a gaping hole on the pitch where once the ball ticked like a clock, and the end is almost near.
Despite the number of midfield acquisitions made, not one has stepped up; Luis Enrique continues repeat the same old mistakes week-in week-out, and the manager ironically remains ignoramous towards his midfield handicap.
Barçelona has the best attackers on the planet, but the three South Americans can only do so much before they begin to fall short.
While the Asturian has achieved plenty and remains in the race for all three competitions this season, the bevy of matches in which Barçelona has failed to implement the necessary changes, makes me feel that while we owe much to Lucho, should the team win any trophies this season, it wouldn't be because of him—it would be inspite of him.
A new manager is imminent and who ever it is, will hopefully usher in some changes that address the crisis at hand.
It's time to make the midfield great again.
Do you agree? Do you disagree? Let us know in the comments below!