First off, I’d like to put that I’m from England, live in England and watch English football. My favourite team, after Barcelona of course, are Colchester United, who ply their trade in the n-Power League One.
Every week, I will watch Match of the Day, which, for those of you unfamiliar with it, will show the highlights from all of the EPL games.
Yesterday, I watched Manchester City versus Everton, and this comment from Andy Gray really annoyed me.
“Would Barcelona be able to cope with the physicality of the Premier League? With the long throws and long balls that teams like Stoke and Blackburn would play against them? I don’t think so.”
Here, Andy Gray is alluding that the team who beat “The Special One” and his Real Madrid 5-0 would not be able to beat Stoke!
He is arguing that the team with all three candidates for the Ballon D’Or and the team with 51 goals in 16 league games wouldn’t be able to compete in the Premier League!
I must question whether he has ever seen Barcelona play!
He goes on to use reasons like:
“They haven’t done too well against Chelsea recently, have they?”
No, they haven’t, but under Guardiola, they have progressed through to the Champions League final, at their expense. They then went on to thoroughly out-class the then champions of England in that final.
Last year Barcelona faced Arsenal. I’m sure everyone knows how that went.
Now I must come back to his original quote.
He has the audacity to claim that Stoke or Blackburn or whoever, would even have the ball long enough to send in the barrage of long balls.
Barcelona, in every game they play have around 70 percent possession. There are games where this figure is closer to 80 percent and some "off-days" where that figure is around 60 percent (like against Espanyol).
So he reckons that with the 20-35 percent of possession that the EPL team would have, that they would do more damage than Barca would with their 65-80 percent?
Sure, the physicality of the league would be different than what they usually play against, but who is to say that the teams would actually be physical with Barcelona?
I think that most would alter their tactics to "park the bus." I don’t think long balls forward will work if all your players are back defending.
Lastly, the Spanish league has some English-esque teams in their ranks—Bilbao, Sociedad, Espanyol, maybe—and in the three games the Blaugrana have had against them, they have won by an aggregate score of 13-2.
I would also like to say that Real would also do very well in the EPL, along with Valencia, Atletico and others.
While I agree that the EPL is the most physical of the top leagues, that doesn’t make it the best and I’m sure that will be proven in February and March when Arsenal fall victim to the Barcelona freight train.