Preview: FC Barcelona vs Granada CF (game 5 liga 2012/13)

Barça play host to Granada Club de Fútbol tomorrow night at Camp Nou (kick off 10 pm), hoping to build on the season’s start of the four straight league wins. Tito Vilanova will have problems to choose a defence with both Gerard Piqué and Carles Puyol out for the next couple of weeks.

Last season’s game between the sides ended in a 5-3 victory for Barça on a historic night that Leo Messi broke Cesar’s all-time Barça scoring record of 232 goals. There has been a lot of talk again recently about Messi-dependency and a look at some statistics shows us why. Last season Messi amazed us by scoring an incredible 73 goals in 60 games (1.217 goals a game) which accounted for a total of 38.63% of the team’s fantastic season’s tally of 190 goals, after just 7 official games of the 2012/13 season Messi has already reached 10 goals which puts him on an even better goals-per-game average (1.429) than last season, the team’s total of 19 goals in those games means Messi’s contribution has risen this season to a remarkable 52.63% of the team’s goals.

Personally, I don’t see it as a big problem, more just a sign that Messi continues to get better every season. It has been pointed out that Messi doesn’t run as much as he used to, but what was has improved is his ability to be in the right place at the right time. Both goals against Spartak, plus his second against Real Sociedad, his second at Getafe and his pair at Osasuna have all come from converting crosses. In fact, only his first goal against Real Sociedad involved him beating a defender which is often seen as his greatest ability.

With Messi on form we should have little to worry about going forward, especially given the quality of our other forwards. There is a very interesting battle developing to see who will get to play more in the other forward positions. Pedro has begun the season well and looks likely to be first choice on the right side, while so far on the left Tello has been the surprise choice so far, though with Villa and Alexis competing for the position he has a tough job. Things will be even more interesting when Cuenca is fit again and when Tito decides that Villa is ready to start a game..

However, it is another story at the back. Of course this week we are all thinking about Puyol and Piqué but our problems in defence can be traced back to losing Eric Abidal. Without the Frenchman there is a different balance to our back line and we miss his covering ability as both Adriano and Jordi Alba are much more attack-minded. With two attacking full backs it seems clear that Busquets is not quick enough to play centre back so the choice to partner Mascherano now seems to lie between Alex Song, Marc Bartrá or Andreu Fontás. Song looked pretty unsure of his role when replacing Piqué on Wednesday but he may just need time to adapt. Personally I think the job tomorrow should go to Bartrá as he seems the most natural to take over Piqué’s right-sided centre back role.

In midfield we are still without Andrés Iniesta and so far this season Vilanova has shown a lot of faith in Cesc Fabregas to play Iniesta’s role. However, given Cesc’s not-so-great form, which isn’t helped by so much press attention to the player, perhaps he should take a rest tomorrow. Thiago looked in good shape during his return at Getafe and really deserves the chance for another start.

Finally, a word on Granada. Having finished 17th last season it looks as though our opponents are going to face another long struggle against the drop this time round. After just four games they already sit in the relegation zone (18th) with just two points to their name. Those points came from two 1-1 home draws against Sevilla and Deportivo while on their travels they lost 1-0 to a last minute goal at Rayo while being easily beaten 3-0 by Real Madrid. They are without several players for the trip to Camp Nou including captain Manuel Lucena and Dani Benitez who is still serving a suspension for throwing a bottle at the referee at the end of last season’s 1-2 defeat to Real Madrid. Of the players who will be playing tomorrow we should watch out for Italian striker Floro Flores who scored in last week’s draw against Depor and the Chilean Fabian Orellana who has played 34 times for his country. The double defensive pivot of Mikel Rico and ex-Betis star Iriney Santos da Silva, French full back Allan Nyom and ex-Racing keeper Toño are other players of note.

Possible Barça XI: Valdés; Alves, Bartrá, Mascherano, Adriano; Xavi, Busquets, Thiago; Pedro, Messi, Tello.

My prediction: Barça 3 Granada 0

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7 Responses to Preview: FC Barcelona vs Granada CF (game 5 liga 2012/13)

  1. barcacentralomer says:

    @Nic: Spot on (as usual) about the current state of affairs. Nic, while it may be true that Messi is improving with every season, it could also be argued that the team overall is becoming over-reliant on Messi which might not be a positive development in the long run.

    Regarding the defensive crisis, I’m with you about Abidal like Puyol being a key component of the Barca defence during Pep’s era, both in the LB and CB positions. However, even the successful experiment of Abidal at CB was again IMO largely due to Barca’s inability to find a top class CB who could play in their system. The disappointing signings of Chgry, Henrique and Caceres point to a problem area that perhaps even Pep could only address in the short term with Abidal. The unfortunate health issues with Abidal aggravated the defensive crisis. Its going to be interesting to see how Tito deals with this issue.

  2. FCB-Parbo says:

    I’m a little nervous about this game without a natural CB. Bartra should get the nod, he has to gain experience. I’m confident that he can do the job. I’m thinking about the match vs Bate (if I’m not mistaken) in last season’s UCL. He did a great job with his defending, very composed and not afraid at all. When our midfield and attacking line are focussed and hold possession then the defense will do well. As I’m sure they all will help eachother out. Like your prediction Nic.

    TOTS UNITS FEM FORCA!!!

  3. Are you serious? what’s gotten into Messi? YOU NEVER TREAT YOUR FELLOW PLAYERS LIKE THAT….NEVER!

    • FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

      Absolutely agree!! Messi does not even have the right to do so as he himself had a shit game. I hope Tito benches Messi in the next game regardless of opposition. Some ground rules has got to be set here. Messi is far from his best. He needs a break. He needs time off for a rethink and some reshaping is needed. I wouldn’t mind if Messi shouted that hard at Thiago as Thiago was certainly the shittiest player of the first half. But Villa was doing alright…..MESSI SHOWED AN ABSOLUTE RONALDO in that occasion. I AM very worried for the team if this is let to carry on!

  4. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    I would go for a Villa Alexis Pedro upfront in the next game. Messi will come on in the 2nd half ONLY if needed. The guy was out of control today. YES he is our ‘MAIN MAN’ this past 3-4 years but NOBODY IS BIGGER THAN THE CLUB!

  5. ewe_gb says:

    so mr. zubizaretta I am hoping that you have been watching all the games this season so far. so could you please explain to me how you could not buy a decent cb? how could you not try to get a tall center forward? so for me, you are the flop of the season! why? because you knew all the problems barca had with its defence last season; you knew that puyol is injury-prone and you knew that barca had problems against teams parking the bus. so how about addressing those problems in the winter transfer season mr. zubizaretta?

  6. Pingback: Preview: FC Barcelona vs Granada CF (game 5 liga 2012/13) | Blaugrana Fan

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