Before the season has even started Barcelona have been rocked with financial frailties and a summer-long transfer war, but the Catalans are still the most feared side in Europe, and trophies are on Pep Guardiola’s agenda.
The fans were treated to beautiful sights in 2009. Not only did their team play the best football in Europe, they showed the world how strong they are when completing the monumental feat in winning the sextuple; with three of the trophies being won last season. The only major trophy they won in 09/10 however was La Liga, which they retained with the highest points total ever; 99.
Outgoing president Joan Laporta gave the fans a goodbye present and gained a psychological nod over the incoming Sandro Rosell by signing David Villa for €40m. One of the most potent attackers in world football improves a forward line already gifted with pace and attacking prowess. However with experienced players such as Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez, Yaya Toure and the disappointment that was Dmytro Chygrynsky all leaving, question marks have been raised over the squad’s depth. A pool of talent in La Masia should allay any fears, and the purchase of Adriano is shrewd business.
The Coach – Before becoming a manager Guardiola was already the darling of Barca and played under the successful regime of Johan Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’. Educated at the club, he won the treble in his first season and became the youngest manger to win the Champions league. Pleasingly he is not reluctant to promote players from the cantera.
Anchorman – Noticed for the wrong reasons after an excessive fall in last season’s Champions League semi-final, Sergio Busquets is a key, yet quiet member of the team. In two years he has gone from third tier football to becoming a World champion. Tactically aware and comfortable in possession, has become someone Guardiola continually trusts.
Playmaker – The fulcrum of the team is Xavi Hernandez, a player who has finally gained recognition in the past two years as being the best central midfielder in the world. Assured in possession, eyes in the back of his head and a leader of the pitch, it would be a fair argument to say he is more important than Lionel Messi.
Hot Prospect – Currently La Masia is brimming with talented players ready to push into the first team, but Jonathan dos Santos is someone to keep an eye on in the coming campaign. Already a full international for Mexico, he has been played in the holding role in pre-season, and his versatility will be important for the Coach this term.
The threat of Real Madrid was evident last season, only three points behind in the final standings, and with one of the best managers in the world in Jose Mourinho now in charge, Barca will have their hardest season in some time. The depth of the squad is a slight concern, and although the players in the academy look talented, they are vastly inexperienced and maybe the Culés might have to except a trophy less season in order to nurture them into the first team. But with Messi, Villa, Andreas Iniesta et al the Catalans will put up a firm fight.
As seen on - A Different League