Is Barcelona’s 22-year-old centre-back, Marc Bartra, the answer to their defensive woes?
Before the Blaugrana spend big on a centre-back in the summer transfer window, they need to determine if Bartra has the potential to be a world-class player.
This article will constructively criticise Barça’s current centre-backs and profile Marc.
A decade after Migueli hung up his boots, Puyol took up the mantle of pushing past the pain barrier, playing every game as if it was the UEFA Champions League final and showing the passion needed to be a Barcelona legend.
The same trait we praise him for—playing through injury—is the primary reason why Carles has found himself in this precarious situation.
His mind may still react like the old Puyol, but his feet don't, so he's always a liability when an opposing player takes him on.
It's even worse when the ball is lofted over his head because he can't recover.
Marca reported: "Carles Puyol could be the surprise inclusion in the Barcelona squad for the Champions League semi-finals first leg at Bayern Munich." Surprise is the wrong word to use.
"Since 2000 Puyol has suffered more than 35 injuries." ........ twitter.com/ZineAFC/status…— Big Friendly German (@ZineAFC) March 4, 2013
He hasn't lived up to the standard expected of a FIFA World Cup, Euro and UEFA Champions League winning defender.
There are valid external distractions that may have affected Gerard's performances.
1. His relationship with Shakira.
2. Having to be the shoulder to lean on as she vents about her ex-boyfriend demanding over $250 million in damages—he claims he masterminded her success (via Dareh Gregorian at the New York Daily News).
3. Piqué's mind (rightly) being pre-occupied with his newborn son, Milan.
He went from being one of the greatest defensive midfielders of his generation to a mediocre centre-back prone to being outsmarted by opposing forwards.
Mascherano: "There can be situations where it can show I'm not a natural centre back but I solve it with attitude, motivation and focus."— barcastuff (@barcastuff) September 27, 2012
The only difference between he, Alex Song, Sergio Busquets and Adriano is that the Argentine has had an extended run at the back.
Javier probably feels he drew the short straw.
Hopefully, the ligament damaged he suffered isn't career-debilitating.
Instead of starting Adriano, who is clueless when it comes to positional awareness, Marc Bartra should have been given the nod in the UEFA Champions League second leg vs. Paris Saint-Germain.
It would have allowed management, the fans and his teammates to see what he was made of, especially when PSG were in the ascendancy.
When Marc did come on, he blocked a shot and made the most clearances in the game (not always a good thing if you kick it straight back to the opposing team).
Bartra was excellent in the 2-1 win over Celtic last October, when he won back the ball eight times whilst completing 93 percent of his passes.
He wasn't so excellent in the 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo.
You can't use the excuse of him not starting for a few months to cover his awful game when management put him in a situation to succeed.
Celta's offence runs through one man—Iago Aspas—who went el loco on Carlos Marchena the game before and was subsequently suspended.
Marc was all over the place as Chilean Fabián Orellana played perhaps the best game of his career.
Solid outings against Real Zaragoza and Mallorca gives you enough confidence to say that Bartra isn't the next Andreu Fontàs.
Barcelona defender Marc Bartra wins LFP award for best defender in Liga Adelante (Segunda) last year. He's now with the first team.— La Masia (@Youngcules) November 13, 2012
People are raving about Real Madrid's Raphaël Varane, but how is this possible?
It's because he is being thrown into the deep end by José Mourinho and is showing world-class upside.
You will never know how great (or awful) Marc Bartra is if Barcelona don't give him an extended run.
He must be a starter from here on in.
Think about it, Blaugrana management are playing with house money.
1. If Bartra looks amateurish, club president Sandro Rosell will stop procrastinating and finally buy a centre-back of top quality in the summer transfer window.
2. Should Bartra be a major factor in Barça dumping out Bayern, then Cules can retort to all the Varane hype: "We have Marc Bartra."