After many months of rumours and negotiations, FC Barcelona have now confirmed their 2011/12 is complete after the signings of Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas. After watching Barça play against Real Madrid in La Supercopa and Napoli in the Joan Gamper trophy, I AGREE.
After many months of rumours and negotiations, FC Barcelona have now confirmed their 2011/12 squad is complete after the signings of Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas. After watching Barça play during the preseason, against Real Madrid in La Supercopa and Napoli in the Joan Gamper trophy, I AGREE.
I have to admit that I was NOT expecting Cesc Fabregas to be an option as a false striker at all. We all knew that, apart from his classic Blaugrana DNA in midfield, he has developed a raw goalscoring instinct during his years at Arsenal. The Fab4 has a proven record of finding the net from midfield at a much higher rate than Xavi or Iniesta. Pep Guardiola, clever as a fox, has seen potential for an emergency replacement for Messi in case the Argentinian Pulga was unavailable or in need of a rest.
Alexis Sanchez will bring an exciting alternative for the 'traditional' MVP last season. Bojan was very cute and handsome but lacked the hunger a striker needs to succeed at the Camp Nou, poor Jeffren was always injured at the most unfortunate moment. This meant players like Messi played as many as 55 matches, which is insane. Alexis brings a much needed breath of fresh air to our attack, great thinking Pep!
Then simply add Afellay, Villa and Pedro and our front line is complete!
Guardiola has used Keita as a defensive midfielder most of the preseason and it looks like the African star will compete with Busquets for that spot. Mascherano will also be an option but I have a feeling that, after excelling in defense during Puyol's long absence, Guardiola will prefer to use El Jefe's talent in defense until El Capitano returns.
Players such as Thiago, Cesc, Xavi and Iniesta will ensure the Pep team 4.0 has as much possession as its predecessors and I'm certain whoever our rivals are, they will be forced to chase the ball most of the time, making our opponents so tired while defending that being fit enough to attack Valdes would be a distant dream!
If Carles Puyol recovers as well as the Barça doctors want to make us believe, our defense doesn't need any new players. Gerard Pique has already risen to the challenge of leading our back line, Abidal is slowly recovering his former form, Mascherano has covered for El Capitano excellently so far and I'm sure he will continue to do so in the future, Fontas should earn his playing time and grow as a result.
As per the full-backs, Dani Alves continues to be as motivated, dominant and daring as ever, Adriano can be trusted to perform in either side, Maxwell, despite not being my favourite footballer on Earth, is also reliable. If injuries strike, Pep also has Puyol and Abidal to help, plus Montoya, Bartra and Muniesa from our B team!
The Season Ahead
I am looking forward to yet another successful year. The current group of players is the most professional, trustworthy and ambitious in over 100 years of FC Barcelona history. Many challenges lay ahead of us but, if we keep a cool head and respect all our opponents, success will come our way.
PROUD TO BE BLAUGRANA, IN PEP WE TRUST!!!!!!!!!