Another dull round of International games has almost passed us by. In a little over a week the first legs of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals will be played.
Under Pep Guardiola, the Blaugrana usually struggle to get an acceptable result when its players come back from international duty.
Then one has to take the looming La Liga strike into account, two weeks without proper match exercise. It’ll be hard for Pep’s squad to get their rhythm back.
But then again, the majority of FC Barcelona’s players make up the core of Spain’s national team, meaning they have just about enough exercise to get back into club football. It’s the rest of the team that has huge question marks hanging over them.
Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola is one of the most predictable managers when it comes to his preferred starting eleven.
No surprises here. When fit, VV is always a starter. In recent seasons he has almost eradicated his few flaws as a goalie and is without a doubt one of the finest keepers in the game.
Fortunately for all Culés, Dani Alves, aka the Brazilian roadrunner, has extended his contract with Barcelona until 2015.
There’s no denying that Alves is one of the best, if not the best right back in the business.
Although he is more known for his attacking contributions, he is a reliable defender as well. If offense is the best defense, than Alves is the best defender in world football.
This season the man nicknamed “Piquenbauer” has been performing slightly below his standards.
Perhaps it is because of his high profile relationship with Columbian Pop Superstar Shakira that his performances have been more Waka Waka than solid.
However, an in-form Gerard Pique is absolutely world-class. Let’s hope his girlfriend goes on an extended tour until….let’s say the end of May.
Personally, I hope Pep Guardiola prefers the young and untested Andreu Fontas over Gabriel Milito.
Why is that?
Ever since his career threatening injury against Manchester United in the semi-finals of the 2008 Champions League, Gabriel Milito has been anything but convincing.
It seems as if Maxwell can’t catch a break. Before Abidal’s recent surgery, the Frenchman has been in absolutely imperious form, much to the dismay of both Maxwell and Adriano.
But even when Abidal was shifted into the center of defense, Pep Guardiola preferred Adriano ahead of Maxwell. Luckily for Maxwell, Adriano is a jack of all trades, so there’s hope after all.
Sergio Busquets, much maligned, often under-appreciated and overlooked when it comes to Barcelona’s brand of tiki taka football is a world-class player nonetheless.
It takes a special player to restrict Argentina’s captain, Javier Mascherano (no slouch himself), to the bench.
When the latter starts for Barcelona, the Blaugrana’s game is not a quick or smooth for that matter. He’ll always have his critics but Busquets contribution is essential for Barcelona.
Javier Mascherano for Yaya Toure; what in the world was Pep Guardiola thinking in the summer of 2009 when he chased the Argentinean?
Duh, best central midfielder in the world. How about that?
If Xavi is the best, then San Andres is a close second.
Hopefully that is the only right wing Pedro will ever be associated with.
Politics and sports don’t mix but everything that is right wing is just wrong. The positioning of Pedro on the right of a three man attack isn’t.
He just doesn’t cross as much as he should. He doesn’t take on defenders as often as he could, but he sorely missed when he isn’t in the starting eleven.
Genuinely two-footed, Pedro provides width and trickery on both flanks.
While David Villa tends to cut in from the left and Lionel Messi playing as a false No. 9, it is Pedro’s job to drag defenders out of position and to create space for his teammates.
El Guaje, top scorer at the 2008 UEFA European Championships, silver shoe recipient at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Spain’s all-time record goal scorer…enough said.
In the current 2010/2011 campaign, La Pulga aka Lionel Messi has scored 48 goals and provided a further 26 assists for club and country; simply the best.