clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Is this Adama Traore’s Barcelona now?

Xavi is building his team around the unstoppable Spanish bull

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Are you not entertained?

I’m not just talking about the intensity and passion of this great Catalan rivalry.

I’m talking about Adama Traore, who is a one man show, and becoming the most valuable player for this iteration of Xavi’s Barca.

Wolves, for all their success and high quality football during Adama’s tenure, never got the most of him because they never built their tactics around him.

Xavi has done the opposite, instructing his right fullbacks to stay out of the way, clearing space for Adama to operate in isolation, knowing there’s not a defender in the world who can stop him mano a mano.

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Joan Valls/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images

This works as an attacking strategy by not only creating chances for Adama, but by opening up space on the left for Jordi Alba and Gavi, yes Gavi, to take on defenders as well.

The team is finding success playing this way, and Xavi should recognize it as a building block.

With Adama as the focal point, the next question becomes who joins him?

One of the frustrations of the Espanyol collapse, and late game comeback, is that it hides all the good that was a continuation from the Atleti smackdown.

Tactically, things are starting to come into focus.

The high pressing has been effective, especially with Frenkie de Jong and Pedri as the main actors.

Winning the ball high up the field is trademark Barca, and creates the best chances on goal.

Gavi is essential to this game plan, whether you play him on the wing or in the midfield.

For now, it’s been a pleasant surprise to see him so effective on the left wing.

And it will likely need to stay that way, because Frenkie, Pedri, and Busquets, are looking stellar together, at least on the offensive end.

Gavi, one way or another, is indispensable.

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Taking a step back, Xavi is getting strong performances from his fullbacks. Jordi Alba and Dani Alves look like superstars, and Sergino Dest just put in an under the radar strong performance as well.

The lack of depth at center back is concerning, and for all excitement around the good business in the transfer window, questions will be asked why more attention wasn’t given to this position.

That conversation will be closely tied to the development of Ferran Torres.

For now, it looks like Ferran is hiding in Adama’s shadow, and that simply cannot continue.

Aside from one moment of brilliance where we saw the quality he is capable of producing in front of goal, Ferran has been invisible. And yet, given the investment Barcelona made in him, he will likely be treated with generosity and many second chances.

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

With so much on the line this season, however, we need to see a system of meritocracy at play.

In my opinion, that means dropping Ferran from the starting lineup in the short term, and giving a chance to Luuk de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Adama has been an unstoppable force on the wing, but he needs someone inside the box who can capitalize on it.

Pair that with Gavi or Dembele on the left, and let’s see which center forward is the most hungry.

For a team that continues to look unreliable on defense, it’s refreshing to at least to see the goal scoring potential that an attack led by Adama Traore can provide.

Xavi has found something that works, and needs to keep things simple from there with his in game management.

The derby was a letdown, but the team is making big strides at the right time, and are forming an identity.

Napoli will be a challenge, but also an opportunity to keep refining the tactics that are working.

With Adama on the field, maybe Xavi should go one step further and turbocharge it.

Offense is this team’s best defense after all.