As the season progresses, I begin to wonder if Pep Guardiola has lost it. Tonight's game against Athletic Bilbao (1-1) has been another dud. Another series of questionable changes and substitutions.
First of all, why is Keita always in the starting eleven these days? And why is he playing in Iniesta's position?
He would've been more effective as a defensive midfielder since Busquets isn't quite the finished article. Busquets is the poster boy for preferential treatment of a player. Yaya Toure is at least a gazillion times better than him.
I remember one incident during the match where Busquets was pushed away like he was a doll. Someone's has got to try that with Yaya Toure, he'd simply body check his opponent.
I have yet to see an opponent outmuscle Toure. Since Toure wasn't available, I guess Guardiola can't be faulted. Wrong! Keita could've played as a defensive midfielder.
Some of the substitutions are questionable, too. Even with the Champions League in mind, why did he substitute Messi for Bojan instead of Thierry Henry?
It is obvious that FC Barcelona are short of center forwards; still Guardiola opted to install Messi as a makeshift striker. He later exchanged Messi for Bojan to take over as a striker while Henry was bored out of his mind sitting on the bench.
Bojan, much like Busquets, still has a long way to go. Am I the only one who sees the logic in playing Henry as a striker when Ibrahimovic is injured? Isn't Henry the guy who scored more than 30+ goals for five straight seasons in England?
And if that wasn't odd enough, Guardiola finally came to his senses and brought in Henry. But wait, who did he sacrifice to make that substitution...wait for it...Xavi!
By far the most influential Barca player in an otherwise ugly match and Guardiola decides to exchange him for Henry with less than 10 minutes to play.
Now here's my question: Why did he play Henry at all? Henry clearly was lost on the pitch. No Xavi, no Messi, Iniesta is forced to play with Keita (who couldn't create a decent chance even if his life would depend on it) and yet Guardiola believes that by taking off the brains of the operation (Xavi) and replacing him with a finisher (Henry) is going to resolve things.
If Guardiola doesn't get it right for the clash with Inter Milan, we will be in serious trouble. If Henry fails yet again to claim a starting spot or even worse Keita continues to occupy Iniesta position I fear we have to say: Bye Bye Champions League.