Spanish Super Cup 2013: Why Cesc Fabregas Must Start for Barcelona

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IAugust 27, 2013

MALAGA, SPAIN - AUGUST 25:  Cesc Fabregas of FC Barcelona looks on during the La Liga match between Malaga CF and FC Barcelona at La Rosaleda Stadium on August 25, 2013 in Malaga, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The second leg of the 2013 Spanish Super Cup will be played on Wednesday evening, with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona locked at 1-1 after the first leg at the Vicente Calderon last week.

Doubts remain over the fitness of star forward Lionel Messi ahead of the encounter, per, with the Argentine having picked up an injury to his left thigh muscle. However, Barcelona remain firm favourites for the encounter, with the return leg to be played at the club's famous Camp Nou home ground.

It is clear, though, that the Blaugrana will need to be much improved from this weekend's insipid 1-0 victory over Malaga, with Atleti having strolled past Rayo Vallecano 5-0 on Sunday afternoon.

In Messi's absence, Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas was used in the false nine role at the head of the attack, but failed to have the same impact that he made in the club's previous two games this season.

Even if Messi should return from his injury woe in time for Wednesday's encounter, Fabregas simply must start if Barcelona are to play to their full potential.

Since the arrival of Tata Martino this summer, there have been some subtle adaptations to the Barcelona system. The side are now seeking to get the ball forward to the wide attacking players quicker, in order to capitalise on the disorganisation of defences during transitions.

While the typical slow, measured build up that the club have become so recognised for remains largely intact, there is clearly some intent to add a measure of directness to the side's play.

It is for this reason that Fabregas can be an integral player for the club this season, with his willingness to attempt to play in a more direct manner of benefit to Martino as he seeks to make changes.

In an opening day, La Liga-thrashing of Levante, it was the former Arsenal man who led the way for Barcelona as he created two goals and six further opportunities for his side from midfield.

Then, in the first leg of the Super Cup last Wednesday, he was able to make an impact from the substitutes' bench as Barcelona upped their performance in the second half to come away from Madrid with an away draw.

He may not boast the same numbers in terms of passes completed as either Xavi or Iniesta, but the integration of Fabregas into the side's midfield on a regular basis could be exactly what Barcelona need at present.

The false nine role can limit Fabregas somewhat, with the former Arsenal man better utilised from a deeper starting position where he can run beyond a forward. He can, though, do a more than reasonable job in the absence of Messi.

Should Messi be fit to return, though, it is time for Martino to stamp his mark on this side. The dropping of either Xavi or Iniesta, more likely the latter, for such an important tie would be a major surprise, but may be what Barcelona need to progress once more.

Using Neymar as a false nine would be another way to free up Fabregas to play his natural game and should also be considered as Martino looks to see his new side develop new facets to their play.

Martino must be bold. Barcelona have been a great side in recent years, but that does not mean they cannot improve yet further. In moving towards a more direct game, there is little doubt that Fabregas can play a major role and cannot be continually left out for important clashes.

Fabregas has shown loyalty to the Camp Nou side this summer in not attempting to force a move to England and Manchester United, where he would have been central to the side and earned a considerable pay rise.

His decision to stay, though, should now be rewarded with a transferring of responsibility onto his shoulders. He has long been ready for the task and, if used from midfield, can make Barcelona a more varied side.

Against Atletico he should be given a chance to help bring change to the Blaugrana midfield.


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