Picking an FC Barcelona XI To Include Ibrahim Afellay
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Goalkeeper: Victor Valdes
This one is a no-brainer, and even though Jose Pinto can double as a referee, I prefer to have Valdes as the Goalie.
Left-back: Eric Abidal
Because Barca’s philosophy is to attack from the kick-off, the Frenchman gets the nod ahead of the technical superior Brazilians Maxwell and Adriano. While his crosses leave much to be desired, he is very solid in defense and far more disciplined than the Brazilian duo. If he were to bomb forward like Dani Alves does on the right-flank, it would leave the defense exposed and vulnerable to counter-attacks.
Centre-back: Carles Puyol
He might have lost a yard or two but his passion and willingness to fight for every lost cause is unmatched. His never-die attitude is exemplary and invaluable as is his experience.
Centre-back: Gerard Pique
Piquenbauer, as he is affectionately called by the fans and media alike, is undoubtedly one of the best centre-backs in the business already, at the tender age of 23.
Is Ibrahim Afellay good enough to earn a place in Barca's XI?
Right-back: Dani Alves
Hopefully his contract situation will be sorted out very soon because he is a very integral part in Barcelona’s set up. His contribution to both defense and offense is so broad that he is essentially two players in one. While Messi can be often found as a withdrawn striker these days, Alves provides width and crosses from the right-flank; much to the benefit of aforementioned Messi & Co.
Holding midfielder: Sergi Busquets
I’m not exactly a fan of Busquets but there must be something about him when Pep entrusts Busi with the crucial task of protecting the back four (rather three since Alves spends most of the time in the oppositions half). He is not the most versatile player, but he does the things he can do efficiently enough. If there’s any area he is superior to Mascherano, it is the understanding of Pep’s (and Barca’s) philosophy. Busi moves the ball around quick, as in; he literally plays one-touch football.
Central midfield: Xavi
When someone writes very little or very much about a player it’s only because of two reasons
a) He isn’t very good to begin with
b) He is so good that is redundant to write anything about him because his accomplishments are well known
And it is clear that by now, everyone should have realized how great of a player Xavi really is. When Xavi is in-form Barca & Spain become near-unbeatable teams.
Attacking-midfield: Andres Iniesta
The hero of Stamford Bridge and South Africa; Xavi’s other half and perhaps Spain’s most complete player. Judging by his skill set, there isn’t much that San Andres can’t do. He is arguably one of the top five dribblers in the world, has a superb vision and is almost unbeatable in one-on-one situations. The only “flaw” is his weak scoring record. But if he continues to score crucial goals as he did against Chelsea or Holland, that’s fine by me.
Left-wing: Ibrahim Afellay
Now, Barca treated themselves to a ridiculously talented player. But his only chance to earn a starting spot is to dislodge Pedro from his left (or right) wing position. Unless the likes of Xavi or Iniesta are injured or in need of a rest, there’s very little chance the Dutch international will feature as a starter.
Just as Pedro, Afellay is very comfortable playing on either wing. But unlike the Spanish international he can operate as a traditional winger too. His delivery from both wings is superior to that of Pedro and his tendency to take shots from outside the 16-yard box is also very welcome.
And since Afellay’s natural position is as an attacking midfielder, it would also allow the interchanging with Andres Iniesta; much to the confusion of the opponents.
Centre-forward: David Villa
He is quite simply Samuel Eto’s real replacement. Unlike the Swedish import (now export) Villa fits in perfectly with Barca and the philosophy of the club, both on and off the pitch. His understanding with Messi is evident and continues to improve with each game. Now that he finally broke his goal-duck, he will challenge Messi and Ronaldo for the Pichichi this season.
Right-wing: Lionel Messi
Not that I’m lazy or uninspired but I will just type one word to describe Messi:
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