Dear Panicked Barcelona Supporter,
Barcelona have a bad month, and all of a sudden it’s time to throw the veteran players under the bus? A few bad results, and it’s time to scrap things and rebuild? Let’s not to be so shortsighted, shall we?
Yes, the next week is a crucial one for the current season. But over the last two decades, Barcelona have—thankfully—never been the kind of team that plans impulsively for the next result or the next trophy. They’ve been playing the long game, laying the groundwork for a decade of dominance.
And it’s paid off immensely so far.
No, Barcelona haven’t won every trophy in sight for every single one of the last four seasons. But they’ve come alarmingly close. So please stop weaving a larger narrative that connects this year’s actual dip in form with past seasons’ stumbles against Inter Milan and Chelsea.
Sometimes you come up against an inferior team, you get unlucky and you lose. That’s football.
Did Pep Guardiola go back to the drawing board every time results didn’t go his way? After winning one point from the first six available in his time as manager, did he chuck out those crazy ideas about attacking football and opt for a more physical, less technical approach?
Let’s hope Vilanova, Roura et al. resist any inclination toward massive changes and focus on the actual problems before them.
And those problems have little to do with Barcelona’s style of play or how many players they commit into the attack. Barcelona have always been vulnerable to the counter-attack; that’s just a trade-off one makes in setting out to score lots of goals. And when you’re chasing a match, as the Blaugrana have recently been forced to do against Milan and Madrid, vulnerability to a counter is only going to increase.
Barcelona’s big problem, recently, has been their inability to comfortably take control of matches in the first place, an issue that springs largely from their lackluster movement in the final third of the pitch.
Yes, of course they could use another real center-half, and yes, they need to improve their defending of set pieces. But they’ve gone behind in big games in seasons past and fought their way back to overwhelming victories (recall Arsenal, Madrid on numerous occasions).
So don’t say that Barcelona can’t play with Dani Alves and Jordi Alba at the same time. You may not recall Sylvinho, Maxwell and Abidal attacking down the left flank because they weren’t as fast, or as incisive, as Alba, but attack they did.
And don’t tell me that Barcelona need to play with two holding midfielders and jet Xavi out of the equation altogether. The man has been there every step of the way for Barcelona’s and Spain’s unprecedented success in the last five years, and that’s no coincidence. He’s probably the greatest midfielder in the history of the game, and he still covers as much ground on the pitch as anyone.
But most importantly, if you want a team that’s going to adjust its sail every time the winds of world footballing tactics shift directions, there are plenty of other teams out there for you.
Barcelona have achieved their incredible success with a different attitude, one that’s committed to the beautiful aspect of the “beautiful game” from the youth level all the way to the senior squad. It’s no coincidence that an overwhelmingly large share of the world’s best footballing talent hails from La Masia.
So if Barcelona don't overcome the deficit against Milan, resist calls to turn the club upside down.
The system isn't broken. They just need to rediscover it.