The last fortnight has been a fascinating whirlwind of emotions for fans of FC Barcelona.
From disappointment at losing to Chelsea in the first leg of the Champions League, to utter dismay at losing to Real Madrid and ultimately utter disbelief at not qualifying after the second leg of the champions league game against Chelsea.
Not many expected Barcelona not to qualify for the final even though they trailed after the first leg but I had a sinking feeling FCB might not qualify. What transcended was Barcelona not creating many chances in the 2nd leg and not being able to convert from the little chances that they did create. This was a sharp contrast, nigh, total 180 degrees from how Barcelona used to play – they kept creating chance after chance and scored very frequently.
Real Madrid had two lines of defense against Barcelona and Chelsea also focused on being very defensive minded. However, I wouldn’t put it down to great defenses. The issues are internal. These are loopholes rather than huge issues, else FC Barcelona would not have won so much like they have in recent times. However, they should not be ignored either –
1. They are too dependent on Messi. He may be the best footballer in the world but on off days like Messi has been having, the team comes up short. Obviously if the best footballer in the world is not playing to his usual level, team performance will suffer. However, there should be back ups who step up to reduce the damage. The team which is the strongest wins, not the team which has the strongest players. Which brings me to the second point..
2. Bring in fresh talent. Barcelona has a way of playing football and they have great players in the likes of Iniesta. However, what they need are pure strikers as back ups for Messi. David Villa in full form might solve that but we haven’t seem him perform at his World Cup level for various reasons. The absence of Villa, missing games, has been a hindrance in the back up aspect of Barcelona. A fresh talent would help give a new lease of life and get them to look ahead rather than back. The main reason Real Madrid came up trumps over Barcelona was because of better back up strengths. Sure there were other reasons but this was the key aspect in my opinion.
FC Barcelona finds itself at a unique crossroad. They won almost every thing which came their way in the last 4 years. However, with the strengthening of their biggest rival in Madrid, just when they thought they achieved every thing, the game has changed a bit. From Champions League winners to not even the champions of Spain, it is a sudden fall which leaves a bitter taste.
Can they go one up on Madrid and the rest of Europe, one which will have a strengthened Manchester United and Manchester City next year, without Guardiola?
Next 12 months should be pretty great in world football, that’s for sure.