The joy of football is about attacking and scoring goals. It’s super simple.
In order to do that, you have to take some risks. You have to have the green light from your coach, and in your own head, to express yourself.
The Barcelona way of playing may be about building out of the back, and dominating on the ball and in possession, but when you get to the final third, there have to be players with the ability and character to create goal scoring opportunities.
That has to be the intention. It’s so obvious, which is why it’s so painful to watch the way the Barcelona forwards play.
They seem so afraid of losing the ball, that they are paralyzed to try anything at all.
You can hate on Ousmane Dembele all you want for not being careful enough in possession, but his ability to drive past a defender is something I really miss this season. He may not be a goal scorer, but he’s a big time creator, which is why coaches don’t drop him. Just ask Luis Enrique.
Now, several “important” Barcelona players are coming back from the injured list. And the team is looking worse than ever.
Let’s start with the wingers.
What’s the job of a winger really? Is it simply to maintain your width, square up a full-back, and then predictably either pass it backwards, or drive inside to lose the ball in traffic?
Because Raphinha, Ferran Torres, Lamine Yamal, and Joao Felix are all guilty of this.
Does anyone get the sense that when they receive the ball out wide, that they will be able to beat a defender? At least with Felix, you know he’ll try. At the moment, the others have no confidence, and as a result, are offering no attacking threat whatsoever.
And then there’s the center forwards, of which there is really only one true option on the team.
Robert Lewandowski is either not fully fit, in which case he shouldn’t be playing at all, or he’s getting too old to play at this level. The guy can’t get around the field, and he can’t make a good touch to save his life at the moment.
6 - Robert Lewandowski has failed to score in any of his last six games for Barcelona in all competitions, his worst goal drought since a 10-match spell with Borussia Dortmund between December 2010 and February 2011. Strange. pic.twitter.com/EoO5kyskRZ— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 7, 2023
Ferran Torres may be sloppy, but his work rate at least gives you something.
Now, it’s sad that that’s the place where we’re at in our evaluation of these Barcelona players at this point in the season.
Beating Shakhtar Donetsk was massively important, in order to secure a place in the knockouts rounds with a few games remaining. Now the game against Porto will be a high pressure game.
And how do we think this team will deal with that pressure?
A club that has failed to get out of the group stage the past two years running?
Tactically, there have been question marks surrounding this team all season long. But for a while, their attitude looked good, and they seemed to have a fighting spirit to them.
Relying on something as ephemeral as good vibes is a terrible way to run your team over the course of a long season, and multiple competitions. At some point, it always runs out, and then you’re left without a foundation to fall back on.
What is the identity of this team?
70% of totally pointless possession against Shakhtar Donetsk with one shot on goal produced.
All the moments worth remembering from the game came from a much less talented team who simply wasn’t afraid to actually play football. Have some fun. Take some chances.
If I’m Xavi, I’d first look in the mirror. What is it about your coaching that’s preventing your attacking players from showing creativity?
Are they afraid of repercussions for making a mistake?
Get into the face of those guys and remind them of why they’re on the field, and what they’re expected to do.
No mincing words, that game was embarrassing.
And it’s not surprising given the drop in form we’ve seen from the team over the past few weeks.
Wake up now before La Liga runs away from you.
Wake up now before another catastrophe strikes in the Champions League. Lose to Porto, and risk elimination.
Xavi needs to figure out why his forwards contribute so little value to the team.
If you can’t score, you’re not playing football.
This team is boring to watch, so maybe start by getting them to have fun again.
Combine that with the talent they supposedly already have, and maybe it’ll be enough to turn things around.
This just isn’t good enough. Not for Barcelona, not for any serious team.
Against Alaves on Sunday, there should be more than a response, there should be an outburst.
Otherwise, it’s time to start asking some tough questions of these players and this manager.
Rant over. Maybe I was too nice.