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5 Barcelona Names Who Must Prove A Point Next Season


Barcelona are only 2 matches away from closing the 2011/12 season. Despite having already won 3 titles (Club World Cup, European Supercup and Spanish Supercup) and having the chance to add La Copa del Rey in a couple of weeks, I can't help but feeling we missed a golden chance of retaining La Liga and Champions League this season.

Yes, I know we can still win La Copa Del Rey if we can beat Bielsa's Athletic Bilbao in the final, but somehow it feels like we could have done more. Am I being too greedy? Well, probably, but this high expectation is a direct result of Barcelona's excellence during the Guardiola era.

Let's be clear: Barcelona weren't able to step up when it mattered the most. After that infamous week when we blew our chances of success in both 'big' titles, the Blaugranas have gone on to scoring 15 goals in the last 3 matches. While winning is always a positive, it feels like too little, too late.


You can argue squad tiredness, certain refereeing calls and long-term injuries are factors which affected our season. The truth is two of those were only decisive points due to our own flaws in terms of fitness preparation and having a squad to start with - As for the Spanish refereeing, I understand it's a tough job which they try to do to the best of their abilities but, when taking decisions in a split second, Real Madrid's constant whining seems to have worked wonders for them, to the point that Barcelona had to formally complain to the RFEF in March.

Anyway, time to move on and start a new page.

Guardiola's departure leaves a massive hole both on and off the pitch - We can't afford to waste our time regretting Pep's decision and must start working on the future now. At this moment in time, the Barcelona staff need to take a close look at the current situation to ensure our team is even more competitive next season.


Here are 5 people who have a point to prove if Barcelona are to succeed next year:

Tito Vilanova: I have to admit I was not expecting Pep Guardiola's successor to be announced on the same day our current manager announced his departure. After the initial shock, it actually seems like the best decision at this moment in time: Tito knows the players well, has been part of masterminding the best team in Barcelona history and seems prepared to continue building on The Pep Team's success.

Having said that, he won't be able to hide behind Guardiola's shadow next year and must prove his worth both on the pitch and during press conferences. Vilanova hasn't really shown Cule fans much of his personality over the last 4 years - I'm sure Mourinho is relishing the chance of poking 'the new boy' again next season!


Sandro Rosell: Since he became Barcelona president back in 2010, Sandro Rosell has taken a failry quiet approach to the job, working behind the scenes but taking a secondary role in front of the media - with Guardiola mostly responsible for defending our club from drug-taking accusations, refereeing conspiracies and other rubbish.

With Pep gone, the responsibility of responding to external attacks must fall into Sandro Rosell's hands - Cules are expecting their president to show them why he was voted for such a high profile job in the first place.

Gerard Pique: Unfortunately, the line between being a professional footballer and a full time celebrity is very thin and, from time to time, some of our Barcelona players are drawn towards crossing it without even realising it. It famously happened to Ronaldinho (taking him from FIFA World Player of the Year to Highest Earning Flop of the Century in a couple of seasons) and, perhaps more unknown to the wider public, Mikel Arteta while at La Masia (where bad influences ruined one of the most promising youngsters to ever enter our Culė academy) 

I am hoping that is not Gerard Pique's case. Our Catalan Giant showed tremendous form during his first seasons at the Camp Nou and I would like to interpret his dip this year as part of his 'growing up' process: Dealing with those annoying paparazzi on a daily basis while coping with Culė expectations can definitely not be an easy task.

Let's hope Pique's focus remains on football rather than fashion shows next season - Barcelona need him back.


Pedro Rodriguez: The fact Lionel Messi has beaten so many goalscoring records this season, while impressive, also shows how other attacking players have been below par.

Since Guardiola took over as manager Barcelona always had at least 3 players scoring over 20 goals per season. A team which wants to succeed at the highest level must make rivals fear that goals can come from any player at any given time. This year, it felt that others only needed to defend Lionel Messi to hurt us, forcing us into never-ending passing periods in midfield which didn't lead many goalscoring chances. Not good enough: Other players need to take risks as well and contribute.

While Pedro suffered from injury early in the season, it can't be denied that dropping from 23, then 22 to only 11 goals must make Barcelona fans expect better in the near future.

The fact David Villa has been injured since January and Alexis Sanchez just landed at the Camp Nou last summer gives them a bit more leadway but, to be honest, the pressure must be on for them too.


Dani Alves: I feel the Brazilian rightback has been key to make Guardiola's Barcelona one of the most successful teams in football history.

Having said that, Alves doesn't seem to be as committed as he was when he first landed at the Camp Nou. This season, he has been benched several times in key matches - which would have been unthinkable in the past.

The fact is the Brazilian has tried to break Guardiola's strict team rules and behaved inappropiately at times, like when he got publically reprimanded for his stupid dance when winning 0-7 at Rayo.

The fact he took far too long to sign his last Barcelona contract makes me think he may be looking for his last big-money transfer elsewhere. PSG and Manchester City have the cash and have already shown an interest - I wouldn't be surprised if Dani Alves wasn't wearing the Blaugrana for much longer.

Tito Vilanova really needs to solve the Dani Alves puzzle as a matter of urgency as unsettled players and a new, inexperienced coach doesn't seem like the best basis to build on.


Things are going to change dramatically in Barcelona as a result of Guardiola's decision to leave. It is now up to those who are staying to work together, ensuring we keep our place amongst the European and World football elite for years to come.

I am confident it can be done.

Let's get to work.


Have Your Say 

What did you think of this article?

How do you feel about Barcelona's future?

Did I miss out on any important points you would like to share with us?

I welcome and appreciate all respectful feedback.

Força Barça!!

Posted by: Francesc Tomàs

Founder and Columnist at www.barcablog.com and ESPN correspondent.

Join our 27,000 followers on Facebook or Twitter

Comments

  1. Sanur7.5.12

    You couldn't have put it any better Tomas. I also think Tito will need to rest Messi, something Guardiola did not do as, Messi insisted on playing every game. After this seasons disappointment I think Titio will need to sit Messi down and tell him how important he is, he will have to rest more, especially come February-March, instead of leaving him on for 90 minutes he should be taken off in games where we're winning comfortably. Other players need to step up more and take responsibility. I would like to see Tito working more on shooting from outside of the opponents box, working on using the wings more, overlaping. Maybe also try improving Busquets forward play where he can do things similar to Toure at the weekend, storming forward and scoring, it could add another dimension. How about working on Messi's right foot to add more armoury?. We certainly need to invest in quality fast defenders, considering the way we play we need fast defenders to get back when we are being countered.

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  2. Greg7.5.12

    I like the article and there are very valid points being made, I have changed my passion for soccer after watching FC Barcelona over the last 12 years and have a new standard of the beautiful game due to the one and only way to play shown so clinically by Barcelona over the last several years. I knew without a doubt that if Barcelona is playing at their best, there is no team who can beat them, none! I think there is one factor which you hit on a little but I truly believe the team is becoming complacent, they are expecting wins and not gritting through these tough games but the main "reason" for our losses is pointing straight at the second striker! We have ALWAYS had at least 2 of the top five scorers in la liga and this year we have struggled in the scoring area, to win we have to finish chances, and we let WAY to many go both in la liga and champions league, causing their 1-0 leads to end up in ties or losses instead of winning 4-0! Also their lack of concentration defensively

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  3. Anonymous7.5.12

    Very true. apart from messi other forwards has done nothing this season.

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  4. Anonymous7.5.12

    i think alexi sanchez.. hes really failed to live up to the billing so far.. he works hard but he needs to get more goals and surely be more innovative in play.

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  5. Anonymous7.5.12

    what about cesc? I think he has something to prove also. he started out brightly but kind of faded a bit in the second half of the season

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  6. Anonymous7.5.12

    i want vilanona should rest messi at starting of next season and sanchex should prove is worth

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  7. Here are some comments my followers at ESPN Soccernet (http://blogs.soccernet.com/barcelona) left about this article:

    Posted by mark 1 day, 1 hour ago
    Defending was the downfall - a draw was always on the cards (much as one hates that result) when the goals were not going in against Chelsea - but the goals they scored, 3 goals from 3 chances, from way back up the field to start with, is not a good sign for any team -you forgot to mention Puyol - the master organiser must make space for new blood but slowly, and Mascherano has undiscline ways which cost the team a crucial goal (when he foiled the offside by running blindly back to goal) - also when he sometimes takes long range shots to nowhere- discipline and speed is needed at the back as elsewhere - perhaps some physical toughness to support the midfield from time to time, but again mascherano costs the team with some of his recklessness - teams now know what Barcelona are like and plan accordingly -

    Posted by voltage pawa 1 day, 1 hour ago
    is my prayer dat things wi be wel nxt season.alves shud go and we shud sign a new keeper

    Posted by Mathematician Coach Zacks 1 day, 1 hour ago
    PEDRO SHOULD BE SOLD OR LON SO THAT IF HE IS BACK TO FORM ,THEN HE COMES BACK ,ALEXIS SNOULD BE PLAYING IN HIS ACTUAL AND BEST POSITION,,TWO FANTASTIC SGRIKERS SHOULD BE SIGN ,EG,HULK AND RVP TO SOLVE FINISHING DROUGHT AND OVER RELIANT ON MESSI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by Ali Raza 1 day ago
    Good article but I think your point about Alves is a bit too harsh. Look at how many games he has played for us and regarding "behind left behind in key matches" it is important to note that Pep wanted to mostly play the 3-4-3 with Masherano in those matches...so it was a tactical decision. We didn't need an attacking RB for those matches. I think he needs to stay!

    Posted by vincent 20 hours, 26 minutes ago
    good articls and good comment from my felow fcb fans, i think all we need nw is a left defendr and to force Thiago to imprv more also fab.we need strong 5 and 6, incase of any injure. Adriano is nt good in that left back.

    Posted by Akinwole Adeniyi 17 hours, 41 minutes ago
    To everything there is a time, barcelona is facing one of the other side of fooball( negative) which will end soonest.

    Posted by MIMI NEYMAR NAGERIA 17 hours, 30 minutes ago
    Now barcelona try to sing new players like , neymar,alaba,barce,ganso,Rvb,bale. Luiz,d.silva,and back to bojan,

    Posted by Khoo Kyaw San 13 hours, 16 minutes ago
    Barca copied Real M of last season; making individual hero of Messi after failing to make hero of the Barca FC itself. Look at how Messi is trying to score as many goals as possible to win the golden boot. Ronaldo did the same thing last year.
    Barca fans enjoy shifting the blames on other factors. According to this article, the stupid face-saving factors are like Mourinho influencing Spanish referees, Pique's mis-form, D Alves's mistakes, and Barca's getting bored of Laliga's Trophy etc...All these are stupid excuses.
    Barca should bear most of the blames for over-relying on Messi, making him more egoistic at the risk of Barca whole team and for its over-attacking tactics, that do not work all the times, particularly in the modern era football world.
    With the departure of Pep and and trial and error tactics of Tito next season, Barca at its best can only win anything at RM's mercy, that is for sure. Here comes the era for RM and Mou.
    Mark my words!!!

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  8. Some more comments from ESPN followers:


    Posted by Gangas mimi 11 hours, 2 minutes ago
    Hey! Your article was great but u seem not to follow barca closely. If i may ask, is it a ritual to keep victor valdes and pinto in that club? The bad goalkeeping frustrates the efforts of all the good players barca has. Sorry for saying this. If barca wants to avoid a repeat of this season then it should change those goalkeepers.

    Posted by iheuwa Godwin okechukwu 8 hours, 9 minutes ago
    pls,lets STOP blaming and pointing accusing fingers on one player or the other.Now that PEP is gone,we need unity in the club.All barca needs now is to get just like 4 quality defenders,a reliable goal keeper and just 1 more striker dats all.PLS LET THERE BE UNITY IN THE CLUB

    Posted by two smoking barrels 6 hours, 42 minutes ago
    after reading the headline i expected to see cesc fabregas among the names, he was crap when it counted the most, i think barca missed their forward's ( villa and pedro ) to finish off all of the chances they create, the way barca play they should score 6 goal's every game

    Posted by Michael 4 hours, 18 minutes ago
    Nice article, Tomas. For me, Dani is an integral part of the club. Though I am a big fan of Montoya, Dani is the best right-back in the world. He provides width, dynamic pace, and outstanding technical ability. His ability to play 1-2's will be difficult to replace.
    Pedro was a complete disappointment. He started to play well at an inconsequential part of the season. Given the talent in La Masia, it is hard to envision him staying at the club.
    Alexis looked great at times, but the persistent injuries are a concern. He needs to score more goals next season.

    Posted by Bobby 2 hours, 8 minutes ago
    The major problem we have at the moment is in our defence line and too much dependence on Lionel Messi. I think the following additions will help us fight for more titles next season: Matt Hummels, Nunes, Rami, Llorente, Jordi Alba and we need a world class goalkeeper. Barcelona is currently the only team world class team without a decent goalkeeper so I think we should go for Courtois. We need good defenders. Keita should leave even Pique if he has chosen to take to fashion..

    Posted by tunde wale 1 hour, 46 minutes ago
    i like dis club very much and i can not stop watching there football match. i support dis club always the time. i love dis club so much that i can stop watching them play there matching. thanks u so much

    Posted by Nicholas Obueh 52 minutes ago
    Well said! As a matter of fact, "bravo"!! There's little or nothing to be added to what you have said, and the comments of fellow Cule's have also been op point.
    But we MUST get our needed acquisitions as discreetly and fast as possible.
    The following are our suggestions for acquisitions: 1. LB~ Jordi Alba.
    CB~ Thiago-Silva or Vertonghen.
    CF~ Radamel Falcao would have been our 1st choice if possible.
    Edson Cavanni- second choice. And in the event of not being able to get him also, we settle for Fernando Llorente.
    Let's see how it pans out for Tito & Rosell next season.
    We the F.C Barcelona Fans Association Nigeria (BFAN) think you are doing a great job and Congratulate you herein.
    If you are on twitter, please let us know so we can follow you. We are @BarcaNaija and our email is "bfancatalunya@yahoo.com", we will appreciate if you can send us such wonderful, whenever there's something new.
    Gracias!
    Visca Barca!!!

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  9. All valid points. WE have a new coach who has to prove himself and questions over whether several players should still be in the team. The three huge wins after the Chelsea game almost had a feeling of pointlessness aka now we score the goals....its too late now. This is the most vital off season since when Pep became coach.

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  10. More comments via ESPN on this article:

    Posted by Visca California 1 day, 2 hours ago
    Perhaps Barca is reaching a critical juncture with Messi in which his brilliance must actually be mitigated for the better of the team (ala Michael Jordan before his championships). We need more balance in terms of both shots and goals - they can't all come from "El Messiah". Fortunately, we have forwards such as Alexis Sanchez, David Villa, Pedro, Affelay, and even Tello who - when all healthy can & should provide the balance we need... Not to mention Cuenca, who can provide width as well as more opportunities for "strikers" other Messi. I'd almost rather not acquire anyone in the transfer window. Perhaps a speedy left back (such as Alba)as we may increasingly miss Abidal - but I'm pretty keen on a platoon of Adriano, Montoya, and Muniesa. My over-arching point is that we have the talent - it's just up to Tito to tweak the roles. I'd like to see our attacking "plan B" be putting Villa/Sanchez/Tello up top in the 9 slot. Messi is much more than a striker after all.

    Posted by andrew kiken 17 hours, 56 minutes ago
    Many of us are pointing blame for losing to chelsea. It seems that a few problems can solve barcelona's problems. Someone needs to score besides messi. Pedro was the natural finisher and it seemed he should have started or played in the 2nd game. Remember, he hit the post in his few minutes of playing time against chelsea.
    Barcelona would never get an American player, but clint dempsey would be perfect for barcelona. He is a finisher, and a better player than pedro. I believe he is a better player than iniesta even. I love iniesta, but he is not in the top 3 in the world. Dempsey has proven he can score on lesser teams and he would score more on barcelona. He would have scored against chelsea in 2 games.
    You can argue david villa as we have forgotten about him. His style of play does not fit barcelona as ibra did not either.
    I would sign puyol to one more year. Fabregas faded as his arsenal teams have done. Valdes was to aggressive against ee and chelsea, but he is our keeper.

    Posted by Lawrence 14 hours, 22 minutes ago
    Good article.My problem is with Thiago. He can dribble well but he is not good in passing. His passes are not good at all. They are not accurate. He often give away the ball when he passes. I know he is trying to imitate Ronaldinho and Messi's passing skills but he is not doing that. He has a lot to do to improve his passes because its costing the team. Did you watch the recent game against Rayo Vallecano? check it you will see

    Posted by Gyang 12 hours, 50 minutes ago
    I as a fan i wish barcelona good luck.

    Posted by Gibril Koroma 3 hours, 52 minutes ago
    The article is great and let's not forget that lady luck was Barcelona's biggest enemy this year. All the games played - from domestic to UEFA Champions' League, points dropped were mainly due to bad luck, especially the Chelsea game. I quite agree with some contributors that players like - Pedro, Pique, Christian Tello, Thiago and Valdez were to blame in many of the important games. Tello wasted a number of great opportunities in both Chelsea and Madrid games. Should have changed his continued run with speed on the left to a nice cut back like the one Cuena did to earn gola #1 against Chelsea. He did that repeatedly against real Madrid. Valdes was to be blame for all of Chelsea's goals as well as that of Real Madrid. He can loose concentration quite easily forgetting the fact he is no way near a world class goalie. I think one great striker (Aguero, Higuain, Falcao, Cavani), 1 left back (Bale, Alba, Alaba) and 1 great\promising keeper (Coutois) will do the trick. No one should leave.

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  11. Posted by Chelsea Messi 15 hours, 11 minutes ago

    I like it. it all sounds so true Barcelona really needs a broom up there asses, and a look in the mirror. to be so high and now so semi-low its not like they have not being there before so its time for them to pull together as team "mes que un club". and get them selves back to where they where. football teams have there highs and there lows, if its there players who are making them go this low the need to change there motto. pick themselves of brush this off and start again.

    Posted by Bada Olalekan Emmanuel (Ultimate) 14 hours, 50 minutes ago
    I think we should learn some lessons from Pep Guardiola over anxious for goals by playing 4 attackers (3-3-4) because of our style of play. Dani Alves and Puyol still overlap despite 3men at the defensive line. If you will agree with me that those matches always end in Draw or Barca lose. We need one or two aggressive strikers with a very high attacking forces so as to relieve us of overlaping risk that cost us counter attacks most times and concentration will not be on Messi alone.
    We hardly charge our opponents on heading balls, Only Puyol complete for corner kick most at cases.
    We should stop playing one stylish game, a professional should follow the temple of the match and deduce the best approach to give it with the quality of players we have.
    We should also work seriously on the way we loose attempt cause that could be our only attempt of winning.
    If playing a big team, we have to be much more focus. lost of concentration affected our player in those crucial matches we lost.

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  12. Anonymous11.5.12

    the better is comming

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  13. Azeez Oduneye20.5.12

    I respect Pep's decision even though it hurts. I always believe that Tito will continue Pep's legacy though it will be a difficult feat, but its possible. Pep was able τ̅☺ achieve a lot cos he has the respect and co-operation of the players.
    Il urge all fans to support this man. Wishing Pep all the best.

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  14. Azeez Oduneye20.5.12

    TOM, I disagreed a bit. I dont think any Barca player in this squad have anything to prove. They have done well. The fact that we couldn't achieve the victory we always had does not make the players lazy or disloyal. We played well this season but we were just unlucky. Il never question this players, even when we lose, as long as i have this feeling that we played well but just unlucky ( it happened a lot this season). We struck the bar so many times, injuries, bad referee decisions, many valid goals ruled for offside, media and psychological attacks etc. It was just a bit too much.
    However, with the mentality of this team, and the freshness and new urge for success that will be introduced by the coming of Tito, Barca will still be Barca. That's why we are more than a club. Visca Barca!!!

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  15. Anonymous2.6.12

    When Barcelona this year, played with three defenders at the back, it wasn't usually successful despite Barcelona's midfield passing and touch nearly being inhuman. Every once in a while someone will make a mistake and this year that would usually lead to a goal. The difference that I've seen between this season and last is that this season, more goals were allowed. Going into next year, with David Villa healthy, Sanchez having fully adapted, and Messi being Messi, I don't think there is to much of a concern regarding the offense. I would like to see Cesc be more of a difference maker this year, but hell find form. But in the end, the defense is where Barca must put the majority of their attention. Puyol is going to have surgery and certainly isn't getting younger, therefore I see the summer transfer window as an opportunity to find a future "replacement." Mascherano is great but he isn't a Puyol. He isn't the guy thats going to put his head in places other people won't. They need to find someone that can be that player. And I know Pique was injured a lot but I was very much against him not starting in the La Liga clash with Madrid. One weakness Barca have is their height, and while the game might flow with no necessity for height, its the set pieces that worry me, and what do you know, the first goal Madrid scored that game was off a corner. Pique must be valued more at the club as in those situations is where he's called on the most. Puyol's replacement should maybe be slightly taller to fill that weakness. Barca need to be consistent about their formation and stick with the 4-3-3. The lineup they had against Madrid in that 5-0 win last season absolutely dominated. Maybe rotate Alexis, Pedro, Villa and Fabregas throughout the wing forward positions. I liked Cesc in that position, after all when he was in that position he ended up scoring the winner against Madrid in the 3-1 victory. By no means should Barca change their tiki taka philosophy however small changes usually end in big results.

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