Vilanova's Reluctance to Shuffle in Valladolid Win a Sign of the Summer to Come?
"My Dad's better than yours" is an argument which never runs low on ammunition when it comes to Barcelona and Real Madrid.
It runs so deep, and is so consistent, that it wouldn't be surprising if Tito Vilanova stuck with the same players, who had won the La Liga title at a canter, just to chase down 100 points.
To reach that target, three wins were needed from their three remaining games.
On Sunday night, that became two wins from two games, as Barca beat not just Real Valladolid, but the stormy weather 2-1 at Camp Nou.
Why they would want to reach 100 points is obvious.
Last season Madrid clinched the title with that total, bettering La Blaugrana's effort of 99 in 2009/10.
But Vilanova says that's not a priority, that one-upmanship doesn't concern him, and that he has other agendas to pursue ahead of next season. From football-espana.net:
"It would be nice if we could get there, but our style of football is more important to us than a points total," he said.
Victor Valdes, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets all returned from injuries to start against Valladolid; Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and David Villa were all named in the starting lineup too.
On the bench sat Marc Bartra, Thiago Alcantara, Jonathan Dos Santos and Cristian Tello, while Gerard Deulofeu was not a member of the 18.
The latter has just signed a new deal, according to ESPN, and has long been highly rated by the club, but it is the status of the others which raises questions over Barcelona's strategy moving forward.
Bartra, who has played in some of the club's biggest games this season, was left out for Mascherano when it was of no benefit to throw the Argentinian straight back into action.
Tello missed out to Villa, who seems all but out of the Camp Nou door this summer, according to The Mirror, while Catalunya-based paper Mundo Deportvio suggested this week that Thiago is available for the right price this summer.
Marc Muniesa looks set leave the club this summer too (via MARCA), Sergi Roberto has been linked with Tottenham, and more recently Espanyol, and Isaac Cuenca is likely to either be loaned out again, or sold, by the time August comes around (via TeamTalk).
It would be silly to have expected wholesale changes, but Valladolid presented the perfect opportunity to give the latest graduates from La Masia a start, and thus experience, in La Liga.
Martin Montoya admittedly started, but the others had to do with soaking wet cameos from the bench.
Perhaps there's a simple answer. Perhaps Vilanova feels the only way to move forward is to outsource?
On Sunday night, Neymar was again said to be extremely close to being confirmed as a La Blaugrana player.
At this stage it remains ifs and buts, but if the club's plan was to move forward with more youth integration, would these remaining matches not have been perfect to start the ball rolling?
Especially given Tito's own words of unconcern regarding the 100-point haul.
What seems more likely right now, is that Barcelona are about to undergo their busiest summer in quite some time.
And that is outgoings as well as incomings, as Tito Vilanova stamps his name on his squad.
Are La Masia's graduates the answer? Or should Barcelona be aggressive in this summer's window? What would you like to see happen?
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