Spain overpowered by Brazil – what now for Barça?

Neymar Iniesta Paulinho 2013Having eight Barça players starting in the final of the Confederations Cup was a definite cause for Culé pride. However, the majority were representing Spain, and after Brazil’s comprehensive 3-0 victory last night there was the same uncomfortable sensation of impotence that was experienced after Barça’s Champions League exit to Bayern Munich.

It would be easy to throw the blame at the non-Barça parts of the Spanish team. Arbeloa was woefully poor at right back, Casillas might have done more to stop all three goals, Torres was inexistent in attack, and when there was a chance to pull a goal back with a penalty, wannabe-hero Nivea-boy Ramos messed up big time.

In comparison the Barça boys didn’t do too badly. Admittedly Piqué had one of his more inconsistent games but Iniesta was again Spain’s best player while Pedro was unfortunate to have two goal-bound efforts brilliantly saved by David Luiz and Julio Cesar. However, despite reasonably decent performances individually from Xavi and Busquets, the Barça trio in Spain’s midfield found it difficult to connect with the forwards and were often helpless to deal with Brazil’s counter attacks.

There was much to be admired about Brazil. Neymar’s electric speed, Fred’s opportunism, Thiago Silva’s composure, but also key to last night’s victory was the physically imposing roles played by Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho in Brazil’s midfield. The manner in which Spain were overpowered by a physically stronger team was reminiscent of Barça’s defeats to Bayern when Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez worked tirelessly to deny Barça space.

So what can Barça learn from the Confederations Cup? There were similarities between Spain’s tournament and Barça’s 2012/13 season. Both Spain and Barça were brilliant at times but there was a failure to control the most important games. In the last five years Spain and Barça have been the most successful teams in the world but previously Spain always had Xabi Alonso to add defensive stability in midfield while Guardiola’s Barça often turned to Seydou Keita for the tough away games.

I recognise that Iniesta’s best position is in midfield, however, the midfield trio of Xavi-Busquets-Iniesta has now been exposed more than once, and perhaps in tough games we should consider sacrificing a forward to allow Iniesta a freer forward role in order to accommodate another midfielder. When Fabregas is on form he is an obvious option to come in but I’d like to see Song or Mascherano given the Keita role to make us more solid against powerful opponents. Or we could of course put in a bid for Paulinho.

Neymar beats Casillas brazil 2013The obvious positive thing for Barça to take from the tournament was the explosive form of Neymar. I hold my hand up and admit I was wrong in my evaluation of our new signing. Before the tournament I had only seen him play four times in full. I’d seen highlights of other games and stuff on Youtube but I generally like to see a few full games to make a fair judgement, and in the games I’d seen he had not impressed much. I was worried about his ability against top defenders, however, he has clearly shown that he can cause any defence problems with the speed of his runs, while the power of his shooting was demonstrated by four splendid goals, and he also showed a lot of character which suggests he won’t be too fazed by the move to Europe. I still don’t like the interventionism of Rosell in his signing and still feel we might have reinforced other positions with the money, though having said that: who cannot be excited about the prospect of seeing Neymar and Messi leading the Barça attack in the coming season?

Unfortunately there is plenty of other business to resolve before the season starts. The most pressing issue is the signing or not of a central defender. It is well known that Tito Vilanova wants Thiago Silva and if he can be persuaded to take a cut in salary to fit in with Barça’s wage structure, and if PSG can be persuaded to accept an offer, then there is little doubt that the Brazilian would be an excellent addition to the squad. However, the ifs are pretty big ifs and if we fail to sign Thiago Silva then we are back to a scramble to find an available player who Tito, Zubizaretta and Rosell can all agree upon.

We are still waiting to see if Thiago Alcántara will agree terms with Manchester United for a move to England. It has been reported that Thiago is insisting on a similar clause to the one in his current Barça contract, allowing him to leave Old Trafford for a lower fee if he doesn’t appear in a designated number of games for the Reds. It doesn’t guarantee that Thiago will play but it does allow him to move on if he doesn’t play often. United are said to be considering the clause as it’s not one they usually have.

The good news is that Rafa Alcántara has signed a new contract until 2016, though it seems he may be loaned out this season, possibly to Luis Enrique’s Celta. There are quite a few other players who could either be loaned or sold and it’s always better not to let these issues drag on all summer. Bojan, Deulofeu and possibly Cuenca could all be loaned out as well as Rafinha, while Villa, Afellay and Johnathan dos Santos are all looking for permanent moves. Barça’s opening friendly of the preseason is against Lechia Gdansk on July 20, that’s only 19 days away. Let’s hope we make the right moves in the transfer market while the players who have appeared in the Confederations Cup get some well earned rest.

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9 Responses to Spain overpowered by Brazil – what now for Barça?

  1. Jason Wagner says:

    Nothing like a chaotic season of soccer!

  2. Pingback: Spain overpowered by Brazil – what now for Barça? | swstefan

  3. layibiyi says:

    Nice Post…You said it all.

    Just like Barca, spain’s problems cannot be placed on just one major reason. There are a combination of reasons. You mentioned the midfield, but even the attack had nothing consistent apart from iniesta. At least Barca had the messi excuse, Torres and mata had nothing to offer as the major threats. I liked the look of the Cesc-Soldado partnership previously.

    Then there is the age issue. Xavi mentioned he thought to retire after the last Euros but changed his mind. I hope he didn’t make the wrong choice. Its no news that it is physically impossible for him to recover from playing 120 minutes in 2 days.

    Brazil was really good. Can’t wait for the world cup next year. This result just made it more mouth watering. Neymar has really shut up a lot of doubters. I preferred looking for a CB first before signing him but whatever now :). I have no idea of the plans of our present management.

  4. layibiyi says:

    Also hope thiago stays still, though it looks like its a matter of time before the transfer is confimed

  5. Caleb says:

    Brazil owning Spain: a huge component here is the way the referee called the game. Whenever Spain/Barca play a game where the referee doesn’t hand out yellow cards for the fouls in midfield it is an advantage for the other team. Spain/Barca depend on technique, and if a referee doesn’t protect that, the more physical team has an advantage. I’m not saying Brazil wasn’t better. Maybe I’m saying Barca/Spain don’t really know what to do when the game is really physical. Perhaps more steel in the midfield is the answer for such games.

    There have been games, though,

    If Thiago leaves, I’ll be sad, but I would like him to get to play more. We do have other talents coming through, though. Like Sergi Roberto.

    It would be awesome if Thiago Silva could be signed. If not, who knows what we’ll do??

    • barcacentralnic says:

      @Caleb – I understand the plan is to promote Sergi Roberto if Thiago leaves.
      Btw Paulinho has reportedly signed for Tottenham for €20 million. A bargain we’ve missed out on.

  6. barcacentralomer says:

    I think this is another wonderful post Nic. The GK issue seems to have been pushed aside though for the time being and maybe with the conclusion of the Confed Cup we’ll be able to get a clearer picture of whats going to happen. Valdes doesn’t want to leave at present and it doesn’t seem like any of the big clubs wants him either. Having said that, we will probably have not one but two keepers leaving next summer with Pinto’s contract also expiring in June. Ter Stegen donning the Barca colours in the coming season looks unlikely. Further, with Barca breaking the bank first to get Neymar and now going all out to land Thaigo Silva means we won’t have too much to spend on a top keeper anyway. While I agree that the top priority should be to get at least 1 world class CB ASAP, we won’t be able to ignore the GK issue for long. I don’t think the Reina option is a bad idea but I have my doubts about Reina being good enough to be the Barca No 1 in the long run. I would much rather have him come in next season to provide some quality back-up and guidance to whoever takes over from Valdes.

    Its disappointing that we seem to be pretty slow in moving out the players who will not be a part of Barca next season. So far I think only Fontas and Bojan (loan) playing futures have been decided. Villa, Afellay, Cuenca (Ajax loan?), Gerard D, JDS and perhaps Rafinha seem unlikely to feature for Barca in the 2013-14 seaon so we should like Nic says wrap up any transfer/loans on a prompt basis.

  7. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    In Neymar’s speech during his presentation as a Barcelona player….He mentioned that HE WOULD DO HIS BEST TO MAKE SURE LEO MESSI AND BARCELONA CONTINUE to be THE BEST in THE WORLD.

    Now this is getting me really riled up, here.

    WHY MUST HE SAY THAT??
    WHY MUST HE SAY THAT HE IS GOING TO HELP LEO MESSI CONTINUE TO BE THE BEST IN THE WORLD??
    DON’T YOU GUYS FEEL THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE??

    I feel that Neymar already knows that EVERY SINGLE MOVE WILL GO THROUGH LEO MESSI.

    I AM GETTING REALLY REALLY WORKED UP WITH THIS. I fear Neymar will just look to combine and supply balls for Messi to score.

    I fear THIS WILL STILL MAKE US PREDICTABLE.

    WHY THE HECK CAN’T WE MIX IT UP INSTEAD.

    WHY MUST EVERY GOD DAMN BARSA PLAYER MAKE SURE LEO MESSI SCORE 50++++ GOALS PER SEASON.

    WHY CAN’T THE GOALS BE SHARED.

    I WOULD LIKE TO SEE

    25 GOALS – NEYMAR
    18 GOALS- PEDRO
    35 GOALS – MESSI
    18 GOALS – ALEXIS

    instead of

    7 GOALS- NEYMAR
    7 GOALS- PEDRO
    7 GOALS- ALEXIS

    75 GOALS- MESSI

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