BARCELONA – The digestion of the Clásico did not sit too well with Barcelona on Monday, after hours had passed and analyzes of all kinds were accumulating in which each note of his performance at the Bernabéu revealed a new symptom of concern.
The main one: the big games… they are big for him. Too. Defeated in Munich, he wanted to impose, with some reason, the speech of good football and the lack of success in the auction to excuse the defeat; the subsequent one in Milan catapulted the arbitration performance to leave a totally flat game in the background; the fatal equalizer at the Camp Nou against Inter was already impossible to argue… And Sunday’s collapse against Real Madrid made clear the many, too many, seams that the Barça team has.
Barça is once again a broken team, so separated between the lines that it plays two, or three, games in one, where the midfield has lost all its poise and personality and resists Gavi’s blows of genius, the defense is more academic that blunt in the center and gibberish on the sides and the front cannot hide its insufficiency despite the 14 goals scored by a Lewandowski who must silently beg for more collaboration.
Little can be reproached to Ter Stegen. The German avoided a point-blank goal from Vinicius and despaired at the passivity of his teammates in the immediate presence of Benzema to clinch at will and should not have been too happy with Valverde’s shot from the edge, absolutely free of a mark to put together a extraordinary missile. It has been a good season for the goalkeeper, excellent against Inter and who has beaten his unbeaten record in the League, until fitting in at the Bernabéu, with very good interventions… That contrast with his colleagues on the defensive line.
It was already bad luck the coincidence in the injuries of Araújo, Koundé, Christensen and, finally, Bellerín that left in minor cloths an area that had been specially reinforced to improve its performance last season. The appearance, by obligation, of Piqué revealed that the veteran central defender, once among the best in the world, is in an unfortunate decline and after his grotesque against Inter he was left out of the Clásico, where Koundé returned in a hurry to pair up with an Èric García whose greatest merit is his great positioning, brilliant ball output and character… But he is alarmingly weak in terms of forcefulness.
In Madrid that was denoted too much… And it was confirmed that Sergi Roberto, broken down in the band as a winger, cannot face missions such as facing sprinters like Vinicius. Lacking collaboration, he was portrayed at 1-0 while on the other band the duel was great, for once, for the young Alejandro Balde, who went through an ordeal against Fede Valverde. He misses the secondary and invisible role of Marcos Alonso and the fall of Jordi Alba, who appeared for nothing at the Bernabéu.
In this aspect, it could be implied that Xavi has decidedly taken the side of the young youth squad, with the risks that this may entail, at least in the short term.
In recent times it has been regularly pointed out that the games are too long for Sergio Busquets… But in Madrid it was clear that the most demanding ones go over him. Inferior to Kroos and even more so to Tchouameni, he was not able not only to impose his figure, but, worst of all, to express the minimum.
Xavi insists, at least he has done so far, on giving him leadership that comes in handy when he should be the only guide and leaves him at the feet of the horses. Powerless to stop Kroos on the play of the first goal and invisible when Valverde appeared to score the second, the academic system of three midfielders surpasses him when the team splits.
Beside him, the figure of Pedri has dwindled dangerously and alarmingly. Called to be the heir to Iniesta and after having made clear a monumental brilliance and quality, he is greatly affected by round-trip football, that the team breaks up, that there is no pause or combination, and even less position. His intelligence makes it easy for him to find partners, as was shown at the beginning of the course with Lewandowski, but at his side he needs partners who physically support him. And he can’t find them.
At the Bernabéu, Gavi was the footballer sacrificed by Xavi and as soon as he entered the game, the coach’s ‘mistake’ was noticed. Throughout the first half, Barça committed a foul and it took just over half an hour for the youth squad to make five, see a card, start the 2-1 play and earn the respect of the rivals.
De Jong… Pointed out by the board regarding salary, the Dutchman lives an ordeal without knowing when and where he should play. When the coach gave him the handle against Inter and in the Clásico instead of Busquets, the team thanked him. He has the right physique to go back and forth, get the ball up and get the position back… But he weighs down that group weakness. Too.
From there, the expected transcendence of a Kessié who is barely a secondary in the garbage minutes, or desperate, without having the ability to change anything, is missed, and much, lacking.
Lewandowski has scored 14 goals in 13 games, which speaks for itself of his ability… But he has almost tiptoed through the big games, in which, in addition, he has had a bit of obvious bad luck. If in Munich Neuer saved him two goals, at the Bernabéu he suffered a very hard marking, elbows included, and sent a forced shot to heaven that, who knows, could change the course of the Clásico.
The Polish striker suffers from the lack of collaboration from his attacking colleagues. In Madrid Dembélé was once again an erratic figure, insisting on being the center of attention when he should be a luxury secondary player and Raphinha went completely unnoticed again. In 22 minutes (counting the addition)
Ansu (https://espndeportes.espn.com/futbol/jugador/_/id/292957/ansu-fati) Fati created more danger than the Frenchman’s first 73 or Raphinha’s 60, who was replaced by a Ferran Torres around Which one might wonder why he is singled out so often when his group involvement is so much higher than the two players who usually start.
Determined to wage war on his own, Dembélé’s anarchy penalizes the team in such a way that in the Clásico it was already clear that it is more damage than solution.
Xavi hides behind specific errors, bad luck and the need to continue and improve. But after an exciting start to the season, his team has begun to show worrying symptoms since the national team break.
It is worrying that an idea exists, it does not move from the blackboard to the field and even more worrying is the physical limitation of a team that is not enough. The rocky Inter showed it to him and he was spat on without dissimulation by a Madrid whose players flew over and on all sides of the azulgranas.
That Valverde or Tchouameni offer a physical exhibition should not, perhaps, be a particularly critical fact, but that Kroos (32 years old) and Modric (37) are so superior forces us to rethink many things.