FC Barcelona have reached that point in the season where titles are decided. Pep Guardiola knows his team has a golden chance to make history against Chelsea in the Champions League and Real Madrid in La Liga. There’s definitely no looking back from now on!
First stop, Stamford Bridge in London. The first thought that sprung to mind when I heard Barcelona were facing Chelsea was looking back at Andres Iniesta’s legendary strike in the 2009 semifinals which enabled The Blaugranas to, ultimately, win our 3rd Champions League, righfully placing our Catalan roots amongst the European football elite.
Sure, I watched how Chelsea defeated Tottenham 1-5 in the FA Cup semis on the weekend but, honestly, I firmly believe Barcelona have the edge and will qualify for the Munich Champions League final. Please note how I’m not arguing that beating Di Matteo’s resurrected Londoner will be a placid walk in the park.
As for the rest of our attack, it’s obvious David Villa’s unfortunate long-term injury affects our potential but I’m impressed by how rapidly Alexis Sanchez has adapted to our formation’s mechanisms, expecially in terms of recovering possession as soon as we lose it.
Pedro has recently shown signs of improvement after a season where, let’s be honest, he’s been a shadow of his former self. Sure, mainly due to injuries, but below standard nonetheless. Let’s hope he can finish the year in a high!
Historically, Barcelona’s failure to defend when not in possession has costed us.
Carles Puyol has managed to fully recover from his frustrating injuries in 2011, forming Pep Guardiola’s preferred defensive partnership with Javier Mascherano, our recently promoted to Blaugrana Minister for Defense. The Argentinian Jefe has been excellent this season, as was Abidal before his unfortunate need for a liver transplant. I also feel that, when fully focused on the job in hand, Pique has the skills to ensure players such as Drogba, Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic leave the pitch unnoticed.
Last, but definitely not least, I want to sing the praises for Dani Alves, the anarchic Brazilian defender-midfielder-winger which virtually owns FC Barcelona’s right flank. Put it this way, Pep Guardiola’s formation would crumble without him. Dani Alves is an upgrade of the classic Brazilian defender who powerfully joins our attack over 70% of the time, giving Xavi and other creative players the option to widen the pitch or cut aggressively through the middle, looking for those quick one-twos with Messi.
I have been directly involved with La Masia academy and been a right-back for most of my playing career and experiece tells me Dani Alves’ fitness, tactical awareness and dedication are completely extraordinary.
The clashes against Chelsea and Real Madrid over the next 10 days will separate the men from the boys. Pep Guardiola can be proud to have led FC Barcelona to 13 out the last 16 trophies we have challenged for, but it doesn’t stop here. The Blaugranas are facing that point in the season were titles are won or lost.
I am starting debate by asking:
Do you feel FC Barcelona can beat Chelsea?
Are there any Chelsea players you fear?
Do you think Abidal and David Villa’s absence will be a handicap for Guardiola?
I welcome and appreciate all feedback.