FC Barcelona ends the 2012/13 season searching for answers to questions arising in the post-Pep Guardiola era, with the majority of them related to its spectacular loss to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League semifinals.
Tito Vilanova and his period as FC Barcelona manager are at the center of many of the questions and answers, with many comparisons between he and Guardiola.
There are others that ask if Vilanova is the problem or part of it at La Blaugrana. The Guardian reported that Vilanova would talk with the players via video while undergoing medical treatment in New York.
However, the problems at Barca existed before and during the Vilanova era and are unrelated to him. Vilanova deserves to be praised for his ability to manage Barca in spite of his health problems.
Before addressing the existing problems and why Vilanova is not one of them, let us address Vilanova vs Guardiola.
Vilanova vs. Guardiola
The comparisons between Vilanova and Guardiola must come to an end. Back in January, Vilanova conceded that he would lose any comparisons with Guardiola as he simply hasn't had enough time to match the most successful club manager in recent years.
Vilanova said that his and Guardiola’s style of coaching are different. Midfielder Andres Iniesta agrees with Vilanova about the comparisons with his former coach, saying it was wrong to compare the two in an interview with GoIT via the FC Barcelona website.
The main problems with FC Barcelona lie in its excessive dependence on Lionel Messi and the team’s defense.
Lionel Messi is one of the greatest footballers in the 21st Century. He was instrumental in the majority of Barca´s victories, especially in the UEFA Champions League (UCL).
Unfortunately, Messi suffered a hamstring injury during the UCL quarterfinals. While he was able to save Barca from defeat at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain despite his injury, Messi was unable to prevent Bayern Munich walking away with a 7-0 aggregate win in the semifinals.
The Barca defense is in serious trouble with an almost total dependence on Carles Puyol, who is injured constantly and cannot perform adequately.
This leaves the defense unable to cope with attacks from opponents like Bayern Munich. Puyol is currently 35 years old and may not improve with time.
There is a possibility that Barca's defense may worsen in the 2013-14 season with disastrous results.
Instead of blaming Vilanova and making comparisons, Barca must address the Messi and defense situation. La Blaugrana must resolve the situation during the summer transfer window instead of next season.
It remains to be seen whether this can be achieved.