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FC Barcelona 2018/19: Veni Vidi Valverde

Discussion in 'Breakfast with Gazza (with Sachmoneious Bullcrap)' started by Zososoxfan, Jul 20, 2018.

  1. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Cross-posting from the summer transfer thread with some minor edits to get this started:

    It's been a quiet summer for the Catalans, but that is offset a bit by the fact that Coutinho arrived in January and Dembele barely played last season. Gone is the Illusionista as the list of players from the Pep core are down to 3 (Messi, Pique, and Busi). Arthur was brought in from Brazil to bolster the MF and perhaps Mina will see more time at CB.

    Personnel wise, I think there are a few keys to the season:
    • Where will Coutinho play. Although he lacks speed, Coutinho is really at his best at LW. His combination play and outside shooting are best utilized there, but he may have to play in MF if EV wants to play Dembouz-Luisito-Messi in a front 3. The development and integration of Denis and Arthur's ability to step into MF are key here as well.
    • RB. Semedo seems like the obvious answer here, but last season he wasn't a lock and Roberto played over him. If Semedo does step in, then Roberto could be a real key to the MF. If Roberto doesn't step into MF this year, he likely never will (at least not at Barca).
    • Old guys. Pique, Busi, and Messi. I think this is the year where these guys finally slow down to the point where they will either alter their game or be rotated more frequently. The club should really be thinking about how to keep these legends fresh for the biggest matches and start integrating other players. For Pique, Llenglet, Mina, and Vermaelen should make this fairly straightforward. For Busi, there are lots of bullets in the chamber but no one knows how good Samper is, if Roberto can do it, or if Rakitic is there, whether there is someone else who can perform his other role. For Messi, no one will duplicate what he brings, but the team can also play a more straightforward scheme and play with 11 men. Messi brings nothing on defense and while he carries the offense for 80-90% of the season, when he goes off form the team has no alternative. Which brings me to...
    Ernesto. Ernie has come out and said he expects to revert back to a 4-3-3 this season. Cules are overly concerned with this, as the responsibilities of the wingers can make a 4-3-3 look like a 4-5-1, 4-4-2, or any other number of formations. But, if EV tries to keep balance in formation rather than throw numbers forward in attack, the fanbase will get restless.
     
  2. slamminsammya

    slamminsammya Member SoSH Member

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    Check out this video I just discovered. It is really beautiful. Damn I love sports.
     
  3. bosox4283

    bosox4283 Member SoSH Member

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    I think this year's La Liga will be hard to predict. Real Madrid lost Ronaldo and Zidane. Barcelona lost Iniesta. Atletico has lost Gabi and Torres (maybe not as skilled as he once was, but he's still the team's hero).

    If Dembele and Coutinho can progress this year, maybe Barcelona will remain the favorites with a very strong core of Dembele, Coutinho, Messi, Suarez, Busquests, and Rakitic.
     
  4. SocrManiac

    SocrManiac Member SoSH Member

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    But... But...

    Messi is going to Inter!!!!

    I despise the silly season media.
     
  5. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

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    Messi to Inter? So that’s why they snaked in and scooped Malcolm just as Roma were closing the deal.

    Is Malcolm the eventual Suarez replacement? And does this mean Mina has to go (assuming that Malcolm takes up a non-EU slot)?
     
  6. BCsMightyJoeYoung

    BCsMightyJoeYoung Member SoSH Member

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    I think it means this was a reeeeediculous made up rumour ..
     
  7. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Even though the Inter rumor was a joke (they made Icardi the captain and just signed Lautaro Martinez among a bevy of other reasons), one of Mina or Vermaelen has to go out this season. Umtiti, Pique, and Lenglet are clearly a tier above the other 2, and while it's definitely a good idea to keep around a 4th CB, that seems like a role Vermaelen would relish as opposed to Mina who is still trying to establish his value. I bet he gets loaned to a club that asks their defenders to play the ball out of the back, as that is what Barca want from him long term. His heading and defensive work will come along at the appropriate speed regardless.
     
  8. rguilmar

    rguilmar lurker

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    Messi and Icardi on the same team? If people are gonna make crazy stuff up, at least make it slightly believable.
     
  9. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

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    Joking about Malcolm replacing Messi. Barca fans would melt down if that was the plan.

    I am curious about why Barca dove in for Malcolm seemingly to nip him away from Roma. He’s immensely talented, but I don’t think ready for big minutes at a mega-club. A couple years at a club like Roma where he could break in, prove himself in the Champions League, and then move to a club like Barca if he’s shown to be of that caliber. But hey, they went big for Dembele last year and invested in Arthur’s future already this summer. Is there a youth movement afoot?

    Also, I think signing Malcolm pushes them to 4 non-EU players, which puts them in a weaker position if they want to sell Mina.
     
  10. PedroSpecialK

    PedroSpecialK Comes at you like a tornado of hair and the NHL sa Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    It seems the Barca interest in Willian was legit, but I don't think their bid ever reached the insane €72m or whatever was reported, as Willian is about to turn 30.

    They probably figured a few extra million € for a younger player that's already nearly at Willian's level who can be taught to track back was worth the gamble. Not to mention that getting into the bidding late prevented there from being a 'Neymar tax' that all the bigger clubs seem to be facing now.
     
  11. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    I agree with @PedroSpecialK that the interest in Willian was legit, but never as lucrative as reported. I also don't understand why they wanted Willian and ended up with Malcom when I think there is a much greater need to find a young CF to give Suarez breaks and begin developing at the club. The one answer I can think of that makes some sense is if Valverde has decided on a formation/system that is incredibly demanding of his wingers and that he will need to rotate them consistently to keep them fresh and find the ones that fit best. I could see a system built around Busi, Rak, Coutinho, Messi, and to a lesser extent Suarez that tasks the wingers (with help from the FBs) with not only defending and attacking from the wings but also making runs in behind the defense. One of Barca's biggest problems last season (especially when Dembele went down) was a lack of speed in the attack. Messi at this point in his career needs runners ahead of him to be effective. Alba was the only speed merchant frequently last year and while he is obviously a terrific target (even more so as a LB), he leaves gaps in behind and he can be even more effective when there is another weapon on that side (although I admit that Coutinho cutting in from the left will likely be a perfect fit with Alba). In any event, Malcom is another option to Dembele for when speed is needed and perhaps EV will try some interesting formations with both of them on the field.
     
  12. speedracer

    speedracer Member SoSH Member

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    No idea how many of the Barca B guys have any real shot at the A side in the foreseeable future, but it was pretty awesome to see them fearlessly working the ball out of Tottenham's high press during the second half (even if it did lead to the occasional turnover in a bad spot).
     
  13. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Cool post on Reddit today of Barca's badge throughout the years. I'd love the club to pay homage to the original from 1899:

    [​IMG]

    Tagging @dirtynine because that's what I do.
     
  14. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Also, it looks like Digne is heading to Everton. I really like Digne and as I said before, I think he would be taking over for Alba permanently next season but he has been a professional and deserves the chance to start this season if he wants it.
     
  15. koufax32

    koufax32 He'll cry if he wants to... SoSH Member

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    You mean the one with a royal crown over a Catalan field?
     
  16. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Yes, I had the same reaction at first too. i.e. that the use of a crown on a Barcelona crest is...likely not favored. However, it appears that the 1899 badge was just a copy of the City's coat of arms. I have read the wikipedia entry on this subject and I'm still not clear on whether the crown represents the Spanish monarchy (I admit this is more likely) or something of a more a local nature. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_Barcelona#Crest

     
  17. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

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  18. rguilmar

    rguilmar lurker

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    Iniesta and Paulinho out, Vidal and Arthur in. Vidal would give that much needed bite to the team (not the Suarez type of bite). He’s getting up there in age but I’m a fan. This signing makes sense to me.

    The Malcom signing has me scratching my head a bit. Like others, I was convinced they would sign another true striker, yet they got another winger instead. Maybe keeping Munir? There are rumors of him going to Sevilla and Alcacer off to England. It’s impossible to separate fact from fiction this time of year though.
     
  19. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    This signing makes some sense in that Vidal can still possibly be a world class player with a skillset somewhat unique to this squad. I'd say that he and Rakitic seem somewhat redundant, but they can play simultaneously and give a different look and Rakitic played way too many matches last season too. Malcom surprised me a bit, but I think it makes sense for several reasons. First, it makes sense to amass more attacking talent to see which ones break thru (this will push Dembele). Second, Coutinho is going to be a big part of the club for the next few seasons, but it's not clear how he best fits in. Adding another talented front 4 player gives EV more flexibility to resolve his best XI puzzle. Lastly, EV may have a new system in mind that requires a ton of work or a unique skillset and Malcom is another bullet in the chamber.

    But, I ultimately agree that this squad still lacks a backup central striker. There are some options out there and I'd expect Barca to pick someone up in January if Luisito has a slow start or if someone becomes available.
     
  20. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    I watched the match over the weekend, but didn't watch all that closely. What stood out in the first 30 minutes was that the team was struggling to put together some coherence until they started finding Coutinho. He really helped get the team into gear and opened things up for everyone else.

    Malcom picked up a knock and Lenglet came on for Umtiti in the 70'. Arthur and Vidal both got into the match which was good to see.

    I enjoy Raki scoring very much!
     
  21. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Got around to watching the Girona match and it was quite a shitshow. Discussion of this match has to start with the VAR-induced red card given to Lenglet. On the play, a foul was actually called against the Girona player, who went down in a heap along with Lenglet after the collision. After both getting up, the two players shook hands and the match appeared ready to restart. Gil Marzano then stopped the match for review of the foul. During the review, the Girona player is seen aggressively going through Lenglet to try and win a loose ball, and Lenglet's arm comes up and his elbow makes incidental contact with the Girona player's face/head. Lenglet was shown a straight red. I am very much a fan of VAR, but this was the worst application of it I've yet seen. In real time, it was clear that this contact was incidental and there was intent to injure. A yellow would've been a bit harsh--a red was asinine. Marzano went on to miss 2-3 penalty shouts in favor of Barca in the second half (at least one of which was glaringly clear), but the red takes the cake. Watch out Lahoz, Marzano is coming after your 'worst ref in la liga' title!

    In terms of the match, Barca got off to a bright start when Vidal centered a good ball from the right for Messi who first-timed a low shot to the far post. More than anything, that is what I will remember Messi for in his late career--the ability to slingshot low powerful shots with unbelievable accuracy from any angle on his first touch. After Lenglet's red which occurred in about the 35th minute, EV got Umtiti warmed up but did not sub him in and instead dropped Sergio into CB. After a ball bounced in the box, Sergio was cautious about not drawing a foul and Pique was late to get over, and Girona put one in just before the half. I think EV's decision was defensible (he didn't want Umtiti to go in cold with HT right around the corner), but this was the exact risk he was running by doing so.

    Suarez was doing well in the first half to combine with Messi and other attackers, but after HT, he reverted back to hit current shit-form. There is tremendous debate in Barca circles about Suarez, but he is certainly struggling at the moment, primarily by having bad touches and prematurely ending Barca's possession-based attacks. Dembele had a pretty bad first half and struggled to get into the flow. He was taken off at HT to make room for the second CB. Arthur popped up all over the pitch and does seem to have a lot of skill, although I don't recall him making many positive passes in the final third. Vidal struggled to get into the flow of the match throughout and despite his assist, his performance left a lot to be desired. When Couts and Rak came on after an hour, the team looked much better and held most of the possession, even being down a man.

    I like EV a lot and think he is committed to squad rotation this season as he should be, but he needs to work in the new MF one at a time. In other words, he can sit Rak or Couts, but not both at the same time. Both Arthur and Vidal are likely better fits for the Rak box-to-box role, although Arthur may be able to be the attacking MF. This would really be a spot for Denis, but EV doesn't seem inclined to give him chances.

    I've also been surprised by how many matches Couts has not started. After Messi, he is the most consistent attacker and stirs the proverbial drink. I recognize that there have been spacing issues when both Couts and Dembouz start, but at this point I think Couts is the priority. Munir, Malcom (he's expected back from injury soon), and even Denis (Denis would probably be the MF behind Couts in that scenario) can all be deployed in conjunction with Couts. All that said, I like the fact that Dembouz is getting a real chance to get going. In a perfect world, I would try Dembouz on the right, Coutinho on the left, and Messi in the hole for a 4-2-4 with a diamond attacking front.
     
  22. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Barca dropped 3 points away at lowly Leganes yesterday. EV again tried to rotate, starting Vermaelen (!) at LB and Munir in the front 3. Both went poorly. Vermaelen predictably did not get forward at all and was glacial getting back on the flank. Munir had a terrible showing and came off after a nondescript hour. Lots of credit should go to Leganes who defended very well and funneled everything to the middle where they closed down quickly and effectively. Barca could not take advantage of space on the wings. Leganes started the second half hitting long balls to take advantage of Barca's high line with slow players lined up next to each other (Pique and Vermaelen). Cuellar had some terrific saves to get the 3 points.

    Things started OK as the team sorted out spacing with this odd lineup, with Messi unlocking the defense with some nifty dribbling, hitting a low hard cross to the top of the box, where Couts took a bad first touch popping the ball up, but then slotting home on a wicked volley. I've said it before but Couts is clearly the second best attacking player at this point and he should rarely be sat. Dembouz had another really rough match and didn't create much danger. He should have had more room to operate on the wing with Alba not starting, but he did not make the most of it. I'd really like to see him down the right and see if it makes any difference. The team was better organized when Luis came on for Munir. It actually made me appreciate that even while Luis is not on form he is still a bona fide #9 with a terrific workrate. I think Barca absolutely need to bring in another in January. Alba came on at '70 and helped, but Messi had one of his worst matches I can remember and no one was able to pick up the slack. Malcom also saw his first action since coming back from injury.

    All that being said, I will remember this match for reminding me how sad I was to see Digne leave. I respect his decision, but EV should have rotated him in more to convince him to stay. Also, Dembouz really needs to get going soon because when Messi, Couts, and him play together that should be enough firepower to score more than one goal. Maybe they need Suarez (or another #9) for spacing, but this was a bad loss.
     
  23. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Well now, Barca drew against Bilbao this weekend and things are getting very uncomfortable in the Catalunyan capital. EV went with a very different lineup, presumably to help get some rest for LM, but also because it's necessary at this point:

    MaTS
    Alba-Lenglet-Pique-Semedo
    Rakitic-Roberto-Vidal
    Coutinho-Suarez-Dembele

    I take this lineup as EV saying Sergio and Messi are our two most important guys ATM and we need them rested for UCL. I was thrilled to see Roberto get the start at DMF (but of course, he pulled a muscle and had to come off at the beginning of the second half). I was even more interested in having three MF in Rak-Roberto-Vidal that seem a bit redundant. Even more still, it was going to be interesting to see how the team would adapt without Messi in the lineup.

    The MF was very fluid with each of the three starters all taking turns at the pivot while the other two got forward. Surprisingly, it was Vidal who provided the most incisive passing. The team was slightly slower and clunky in buildup than usual, but did create a lot of chances in the first half. The problem was the finishing wasn't there. While Suarez had one of his best matches of the year IMO, creating chances for others, playing aggressively, creating problems, etc., Dembouz had yet another stinker (with his TO partly responsible for the goal). Couts was good in the first half, but fell off in the second.

    Pique has looked lackadaisical in these early matches. Umtiti is now expected to be out for months, so settling the CBs is definitely priority number one for EV right now.

    While Barca fans are currently arguing over whether to continue trying to get the 4-3-3 to work, or switching to a 4-4-2, I think a 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 may be the best deployment at this point:

    MaTS
    Alba-CB-CB-Semedo
    Sergio-Rak/Vidal
    Couts-Messi-Dembouz
    Suarez

    MaTS
    Alba-CB-CB-Semedo
    Sergio
    Malcom-Couts-Messi-Dembouz
    Suarez

    Both formations emphasize that more creativity is needed to break down compact defenses. The way to do this is have more players capable of playing between the lines and combining at the top of the box.
     
  24. Morgan's Magic Snowplow

    Morgan's Magic Snowplow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Yesterday was the first time I’ve seen Arthur Melo play. He looks like a gem - quick feet, great in tight spaces, and worked hard.
     
  25. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    There were shades of Xavi in there. He was certainly occupying the same space, provides a bit more defensively, and most importantly allows Rak and Busi to do what they do best. I've been a huge supporter of Dembele (take note @teddykgb), but he doesn't belong in the best XI ATM. He can give Coutinho (@teddykgb) and Suarez a rest here and there, but the best lineup almost certainly includes Coutinho-Suarez-Messi up top and some combo of Busi, Rak, Arthur, and Vidal in the MF.
     
  26. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    [​IMG]

    Yeah, this dude is the real deal.
     
  27. Royal Reader

    Royal Reader Member SoSH Member

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    I have read in numerous places that during the Franco years FCB/BCF were forced to replace the Catalan flag with the Spanish one in their badge, but have never seen one. Is this a myth?
     
  28. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    This is all I got, from Wiki:

     
  29. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Clasico weekend I coming up on Sunday at 11:15am EST at Camp Nou. Barca are tops in the league coming in with 18 points from 9 matches. Real have gotten off to a slow start and sit 7th with 14 points.

    Barca's lineup is entirely predictable but for 2 spots: either Roberto or Semedo will start at RB and there is an open spot because of Messi's injury, likely to be filled by one of Dembele/Vidal/Rafinha, but a small chance that Roberto could start in the MF with Semedo at RB. I'll guess it's Roberto at RB and Vidal in the MF with the hope of countering Modric, Kroos, Casemiro, and Isco. IOW, Barca will elect for more of a 4-4-2 look with a very fluid MF of Busi-Rak-Arthur-Vidal and Suarez-Coutinho up top. It's a conservative lineup lacking a threat down the right, but one that should be able to control MF and limit counters.

    For Real, I don't expect any surprises:

    Courtois
    Marcelo-Ramos-Varane-Vazquez
    Kroos-Casemiro-Modric
    Isco-Benz-Bale

    Asensio off the bench. While the frontline can still create magic and I think the world of Casemiro and Modric, this squad is getting old. Modric is 33, Benz is 30, Marcelo is 30, and Bale is 29. Real are missing CRonaldo more than I thought they would.

    In any event, these are still 2 of the best clubs in the world IMO (MANC, Liverpool, Juve, and Bayern make up the rest of the first tier) and typically produce entertaining football when they meet.
     
  30. rguilmar

    rguilmar lurker

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    That went well! No Messi, no problem.

    In all fairness, Madrid had a spell of dominating play after halftime. They had some good chances to equalize. In the end though, 5-1 is 5-1, and not having Messi matters, especially to the masses in Madrid who will no doubt be calling for a change at the top.

    Back to Barca. The score line was impressive and five goals was a fair amount. The concerns at the back are still there though. Madrid has some great chances to score more than one today. It looked to me though that most of Barca’s defensive problems started up field with cheap turnovers.

    Top of the league and cruising through a tough UCL group feels great, but this team has some holes. The defensive weaknesses will hopefully be cleared up as they get healthy.

    Not sure why Rafinha keeps getting run with Messi out, but there’s something to be said for having Suarez, Coutinho, and Arthur shine. I like the depth with competition all over the field. Valverde’s task will be resting the top dogs at the right times and getting results, which has been hit or miss so far this season.
     
  31. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    To me, this match says much more about Madrid than Barca. Madrid looked slow and the tactics were very poor. With Messi out and the current form of the squad (i.e. Dembele struggling, the emergence of Arthur, quality in MF with Rafinha, Vidal, Roberto, etc.), it was obvious that EV was going to try and overrun Madrid's aging MF. They did that and Madrid couldn't do anything in the first half.

    I'd like to go back and watch again, but as Alba pushed higher and higher and gave Nacho fits, it didn't seem like there was much of a threat in behind Alba. Perhaps this was tactical by EV (what I want to look for), but when Real switched to the 3-5-2 at half and Vazquez could pin Alba back a bit, it made Real much more effective. Speaking of which, Real's only push back in this match was in the beginning of the second half as Real significantly changed their formation/tactics and Barca had to figure out where to counter. Once they weathered the storm, the counters were there and the route was on.

    I really liked the formation when Semedo was brought on Roberto moved into the MF. He is much more adept at being the 'Go' MF than Rakitic and Arthur. Although I think there's an argument as to who is better at the role between him and Vidal.

    For now, EV gets to enjoy his standing at the top of La Liga and the UCL group. There's a breather with a Copa match and a Liga match against lowly Vallecano, but then it picks right back up with:

    @Inter
    Betis
    @Atleti
    @PSV
    Villareal
    Copa vs. Cultura Leonesa
    @Espanyol
    Spurs
     
  32. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Interesting week as Suarez has rounded into form and saved Barca with some clinical finishing. If he can get back to scoring goals consistently with one or two touches, he is one of the best CFs in the game. It's when he's forced to help create and take several touches that Suarez falls off. He's also running into space more, likely as a result of getting back into top shape after a long summer.

    Arthur has also come back to earth. He's still very skilled, but not dominating games and creating chances all over the field like he was a couple of weeks ago. Still sad to see that Coutinho is not ready to lead this team with Messi out. He is a useful piece and hasn't played badly, but he is playing second fiddle to Suarez and less important than the stalwart MF.

    This leads me to EV. While rotation is always a balance, I'm really upset that he hasn't given more rest to Rakitic and Busi. With Roberto, Vidal, and Semedo all clearly in the rotation, there are a variety of ways to get the first two into the action in MF. It's also surprising to me that Dembele and Malcom haven't gotten into the XI in a Liga match, but they seem less deserving. Rafinha has also cooled off after showing well in the Inter match and the one after.

    Munir played one of his better matches as a sub against Rayo, but he was also pretty dreadful against Leonesa in the Copa.

    MaTS should get a ton of credit for saving Barca's bacon in the Rayo match. The result was very unfair to them, and Barca should've lost, or at best drawn, rather than stealing 3 points away.
     
  33. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Barca got beat at home over the weekend 4-3 by Betis and that scoreline is flattering to the home team. The problems were in the MF, where Rakitic looked totally gassed and Arthur has come back to earth. I keep harping on it, but Vidal needs to get a string of starts. The other player who should get more time in MF is Roberto. Semedo needs to be given a real chance to lock down RB where his ceiling is so much higher than Roberto and Roberto can be used in MF. Rafinha can also get PT. Malcom started off very brightly, but disappeared after 20 minutes. Munir has played much better recently, and maybe it's time he get another bona fide chance to be a winger?

    Messi returned and played the whole 90, which was a mistake. He looked rusty and should've been eased back in. Suarez is very much in form and has looked great. Ter Stegen also let in a softy which almost never happens. Other goals were not his fault. Betis is a good team and I wouldn't be surprised if they came roaring back after a slow start and claimed a Europa spot.
     
  34. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Barca are dealing with a slew of injuries all of a sudden. Rafinha tore his ACL and likely out for the season. Feel terrible for him as he was starting to get consistent minutes. Roberto went down at the end of the first half and will be out 3-4 weeks. 2-3 weeks for Suarez's knee. Cillessen is out for 2-3 weeks, and Arthur is expected to miss the PSV match. The good news is Umtiti is back and Phil Schoen mentioned that Barca may have been missing some of his fire recently, and I tend to agree.

    Will be very interesting to see how EV lines up. Malcom, Dembele, Coutinho, Vidal, Munir, and Alena will all be trying to impress. If you are one of those guys and don't play much these next two weeks, I'd angle to move clubs.

    My preferred lineup:

    MaTS
    Alba-Pique-Umtiti-Semedo
    Rak-Busi-Vidal
    Dembele-Messi-Coutinho

    Malcom and Munir off the bench.

    I could also Munir getting a chance at CF, though:

    MaTS
    Alba-Pique-Umtiti-Semedo
    Dembele-Rak-Busi-Coutinho
    Messi-Munir

    Vidal and Malcom off the bench.

    I don't love that lineup because it lacks speed and actually plays more like a 4-2-4. You could swap Dembele out for Vidal for more balance, but then you lose speed. Swap out Coutinho and you leave your most skilled non-Messi player on the bench.
     

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