How to improve Barcelona's starting XI?
With Barcelona romping to the 2008-09 La Liga title and strong favourites for the UEFA Champions League, it is difficult to see how Pep Guardiola’s men can get much better. Even compared to the 2005-06 double winning team starring Ronaldinho, the current mob look much more solid while maintaining their flair and creativity which has seen them score an incredible 88 goals in their first 31 La Liga matches.
However, as with all football clubs, no matter how good you are, if you stand still you go backwards so Barca must look to inject some freshness into their team this summer. It’s difficult to see where – with Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Henry, Eto’o and Gudjohnsen just some of the stars who grace the Nou Camp pitch, it’s easy to see why Barcelona jerseys are among the best selling kits in world football.
One name constantly linked with a return to the Catalan club is Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas, but do Barca really need him? That the Spaniard is a talented player is unquestioned, but he couldn’t break into a Euro 2008 winning midfield based around Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, so what makes him dislodge either of the duo in the Barcelona starting XI.
Going forward, Barcelona’s goal return suggests they are doing just fine and so while it may be prudent to bring in a young backup prospect to cover for injuries to Eto’o and Henry, it is perhaps at the back where the weaknesses of the Barcelona side are uncovered when they meet the more robust style of the Premiership teams in the final stages of the Champions League.
Barcelona do have somewhat of a soft centre and it will be interesting to see how they cope with the physical presence of Didier Drogba in what promises to be a fascinating clash with Chelsea in the coming weeks.
Goalkeeper Victor Valdes is also suspect and has made a number of errors this season which have largely been covered up by Barca’s amazing attacking strength.
The La Liga news headlines conjur up all sorts of star names seemingly bound for the Nou Camp from Fabregas to Kaka to Yohan Gourcuff but sometimes, adding big names to a successful team can do more harm than good (Dimitar Berbatov anyone?). It is the opinion of this writer that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and a little tweaking should be enough to ensure Barcelona continue their success into future seasons.
Written by Danny Watson, a professional sports writer who blogs about football news.