Early impressions Barça 2012/2013

In the past few seasons the first international break at the start of September arrived irritatingly early, usually after just one league game, which was like a giving a new toy to a child and then taking it away after thirty seconds. This season, despite kick off times being messed with, we have at least had three league games along with the two Supercopa games before the break which means we have had more of a chance to begin to get an idea of how things will be under Tito Vilanova.

My first impressions are pretty balanced. On the one hand it is positive to see that there is no change to the general philosophy of playing possession football with a high-intensity pressing game when we lose the ball. This was expected of course, and so far Tito has pretty much stuck to the 4-3-3 shape that has been our standard for so many years now. What is perhaps most interesting is that so far the two wide attacking positions have been taken by forwards while neither Cesc Fabregas nor Andres Iniesta has been used in the forward line. This, combined with the use of two attacking full backs, has given us plenty of width. It will be interesting to see if Puyol ever gets used at full back, and what will happen if Eric Abidal makes it back (and the signs are looking very positive that he could be back before Christmas).

Fabregas has been the centre of attention with many expressing concerns about his form. It seems Tito wants to use Cesc to alternate with Xavi and Iniesta and he has started in the three league games so far but has been subbed off around the hour mark in each of those games while playing only eight minutes against Madrid in the supercup. I think the press story of a possible loan move to Milan is a bit premature as he is obviously a player with a lot of talent who has already demonstrated in his first season that he has plenty to offer. It could just be down to a run of bad luck in front of goal affecting his confidence, and I think we should be patient. However, with Thiago Alcantara fit again after his shin problems Fabregas will have to start turning things round or his opportunities may become even more limited.

Our other big signing from last summer Alexis Sanchez has also been struggling to find his form, and like Fabregas, he has yet to score this season. It seems that the goal-scoring burden will again fall on Leo Messi who with six goals has 50% of the team’s total. However, there is positive news with the gradual return of David Villa who took less than ten minutes to find the net after coming on in the 5-1 win against Real Sociedad, while also returning to Spain’s national team with a penalty goal in last night’s 6-0 victory over Frank Rijkaard’s Saudi Arabia. We can also expect goals from Pedro who is looking back to his best, he had an excellent game for Spain scoring twice.

Of our two new signings it is still very early to make much of a judgement. However, Alex Song, in just 105 minutes of football, has really looked the part and looks sure to give Sergio Busquets something to think about. Jordi Alba has shown glimses of his attacking strengths but at the same time the odd sign of a defensive weakness and it seems he will have a fight to win preference over Adriano, who despite his sending off in Madrid, has started the season well.

We cannot hold Tito responsible for players going through bad patches and we should also be able to accept that there are some days, such as when we beat Osasuna, when we play well below our best. Guardiola’s team had its ups and downs and I’m sure we will have the same with Tito. If I have one major concern, aside from the form of individual players, it is the number of individual errors that have cost us goals. We know our lack of height means we are always going to struggle against high balls and we will always concede goals at corners and free kicks. However, we were especially punished for individual errors by Madrid and it is something we need to watch out for. Guardiola was an expert at keeping the players’ mentality at an optimum. We will need to tighten up at the back or we may end up relying on Cristiano Ronaldo messing things up in Madrid if we are going to reclaim La Liga this season.

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13 Responses to Early impressions Barça 2012/2013

  1. layibiyi says:

    You have said it all, good post.

    Pedro really really looking good this season.

    • FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

      Pedro is not just back at his best….he looks to have even improved his game quite abit. He seems extra confident running with the ball at his feet lately….and seems to use a few tricks to get past players as well. Very very encouraging.

      Just like you Layibiyi,,,,..i agree that the post has definitely summed it all up. I shall wait patiently for Fabregas and Sanchez to show us some awesome killer passes and Super goals…I have faith that somehow they will come good. Visca El Barca!!

  2. Caleb says:

    Pedro is looking better than ever before. And it’s not because of the goals. It seems like his touch has improved a good deal and play breaks down with him far less.

    I still think Sanchez needs to stop worshiping Messi so much. It’s too predictable when he looks to feed Messi nearly every time. If he wants to help the team and Messi he needs to be a dangerous player himself. He’s been dribbling more guys this year but he just should take some more chances.

    I’m a bit concerned about Cesc and where he’s actually going to fit in.

    Overall a really great write up, Nic!!

    • layibiyi says:

      I agree about Sanchez too. Forward players at barca should take cue from pedro(when he’s on form), you have to be dangerous as well. Passing the ball to xavi and messi all the time all in the name of recycling possession doesn’t get you anywhere especially if you were bought because of your effective forward skills. Tello and Cuenca rose ahead of the depth chart last season not because they were better but be because they tried to make plays.

  3. barcacentralomer says:

    A balanced and comprehensive current state of affairs at Barca. Nic, You’ve covered almost everything, however, just two things I wanted to talk about. I’m still not convinced all is well with our CB situation. Puyol is in the twilight of his career and can’t be expected to be a regular starter. Pique IMO doesn’t look like the Pique of a few years ago and so far has been below par. Abidal may or may not be back. Fontas, Muniesa and Co. still need time to be able to challenge for the first team. It’ll be interesting to see how Tito and his team address this issue.
    Secondly, while Valdes is rightly our undisputed No 1, I think he needs some competition to raise his game. IMO he gets complacent at times and his errors in critical matches during the CL and SuperCup are not something that one expects from a world class keeper.

    Yes there’s no quick fix to both the above issues but they could play a part in determining how Barca’s season pans out. Lets hope I’m wrong and we’re all laughing about this post in May 2012.

  4. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Spain seems to be getting the best out of Fabregas i must say. He has been way better for country as compared for club, lately. Time for Tito to take some notes =)

  5. darkwah gideon says:

    our style of play have not change and is plus for T.V but they should sometimes shoot from a close range, well done nic

  6. Pedro’s role in our team has been always bigger than Villa. We can play without Villa, but not without Pedro. He’s our unsung hero. Glad that he’s back on-form !!!

  7. barcacentralnic says:

    Great story from ex-Celtic manager Gordon Strachan when asked what you should do when facing Barça:

    “Well, you visit a church or chapel – whatever your preference is – and just hope.

    “Everybody has tried to take Barcelona on and they’ve all tried different systems.

    “But trust me – it’s good players who make the difference.

    “Good men win games. There were about seven different styles at the Euro Championships in the summer but who ended up winning it? The best players, Spain.

    “When we played Barca in 2008, that was when everyone in Britain realised this was a special team.

    “We do analysis with our Prozone system. When Manchester United came to play us they got 340-odd passes. I think AC Milan made 360 or so – we actually managed to contain Andrea Pirlo and cut his down.

    “But Barcelona came to Celtic Park and completed 700 passes. I looked at the analyst the next morning and said ‘there’s something wrong with Prozone’.

    “I told Tam Burns ‘go and check that for Christ’s sake, there must be something wrong if it’s saying 700 passes’.

    “It was hypnotic football. It was passing we’d never seen before. They just kept the ball moving, then they go bang-bang, goal.

    “We all had an idea of what Xavi and Andres Iniesta did but we didn’t realise we were watching some of the best players in the world – some of the best ever.”

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