Things have just got a little bit awkward between Barcelona and Josep Guardiola.
If the club weren't already reeling from their 7-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in last season's Champions League semifinal, their former manager, and the German team's new one, has lifted the lid on his rocky relationship with the club during his year off.
Speaking at a press conference in Rome, Guardiola revealed several reasons why he's felt let down by Sandro Rosell's Barca over the past 12 months, via football-espana.net:
I went 6,000 miles away and asked the President to leave me alone and they have not succeeded, they haven't kept their word. I did my time and left. It was not his responsibility, it was I who decided to leave.
This year there has been too much going on and they have crossed the line—to use Tito Vilanova’s illness to hurt me is something that I will not forget.
Vilanova would probably have preferred for these discrepancies not to come out, as it will only intensify any potential encounter between the German and Spanish champions, but in theory they were always going to creep to the surface at some point.
The Barcelona manager, who it shouldn't be forgot steered the club to a groundbreaking league season last year, now has to focus his attention on avoiding another European debacle—that doesn't mean they have to win the competition, but they'll do well to avoid a successive humiliating exit.
To do so, the 44-year-old will have to evolve a side which has undergone little change in five seasons—a process which may have been further down the line by now, but for his unfortunate health issues.
Up until Christmas last season, Vilanova had been implementing subtle changes. La Blaugrana were more active with their passing in the opposition's half, as opposed to an even spread previously—they were also more inclined to attempt occasional long or diagonal balls.
It resulted in more goals being scored, but they were also conceding more. A 5-4 win against Deportivo La Coruna perhaps being the perfect example, while 3-2 and 4-2 wins against Sevilla and Mallorca also demonstrate the point.
With Neymar presumably slotting in on the left, the stage is set for this natural progression to continue. It far from eliminates the pass and move style of Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, merely adding an alternative string to the team's attack—minimizing predictability.
A defender is required for this evolution, though, because, as previously mentioned, Barca were conceding more with this approach. Someone with leadership ability would be preferred, as the status of Carles Puyol as the man for the big matches comes into question.
Full-back wise, Dani Alves may need to show the discipline evident in his performance in the Confederations Cup final in the bigger games—especially with Martin Montoya ready and waiting to take his place—while Jordi Alba proved against AC Milan that he can defend as well as attack.
With a second preseason under his belt and a couple of new faces, this season could begin to reveal Tito's changes in a more obvious manner—meanwhile, over in Bavaria, Bayern are undergoing their own makeover.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!