Barça, Year 1 of the post-Messi!

Despite the elimination defeat against Real in the semifinals of the Spanish Supercup (3-2 AP), Xavi’s FC Barcelona brilliantly and definitively turned the page Lionel Messi. What if this Clásico XXL announced a bright future?

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Each disadvantage has its advantages. Cruyff’s aphorisms still sometimes guide Barca’s destiny … If Messi had stayed at the club, Leo would be around 10 goals and 5 assists, and one of his deadly free kicks might have made the difference. November 23 against Benfica (0-0). FC Barcelona would have appeared on the podium of La Liga as the presumed dolphin of Real and they are preparing to meet Ajax soon in 8is of C1. Yes, but…

17 Blaugrana in reconquest!

The presence of Lionel as the leader of the game would have delayed for another year the difficult transition which leads precisely to the post-Messi. The Year Zero which had marked his departure this summer had logically opened a gray area punctuated by the failure of Koeman, then the interim of Sergi Barjuan and finally the insipid debut of Xavi, one of the child prodigies of the Catalan club. And Wednesday night, despite the defeat, this Barça in bad shape and points sketched the beginnings of its renewal. Because so far, Xavi’s profession of faith when he arrived last November ( “What we want is to play well, to have the ball, to have chances, not to speculate and to press high” ) appeared to have passed out during rough matches where Luuk de Jong (still a goal scorer on Wednesday night) and Ter Stegen brought the club the few points back in La Liga.

The 120 minutes of the Clásico will have been a kind of match-test, match-stage, for a meeting which concerned no less than 17 players (11 holders and 6 substitutes). This accelerated workforce review seemed to settle a good part of the Koeman legacy both from the point of view of the players (Messi, Griezmann, Coutinho, left or loaned, Depay replacing, Frenkie de Jong replaced) and the game. impulse of Dembélé and Gavi, then Pedri and Fati entered in the second half, this Barça put a coherent intensity in front, imposing a high pressing and a great density of players in the last 20 opposing meters (on the goal of Fati, 9 Blaugrana in this area, including 5 at the fallout from the center of Alba). If Xavi’s team does not yet fully apply the Cruyffian principle dear to Barça de Guardiola which suggests that a large number of players must be in front of the ball, it nevertheless dares the imbalance with a high block marked by the notable passage of the 4-3-3 to 3-4-3 in the second half. An option not yet well mastered since it left large spaces behind, causing blocks that Real loved and that the speed of Araujo alone could not stop.

Thanks to Real!

This pivotal match reflected the encouraging trial and error of a team that oscillates between a game that is sometimes direct, almost primary, made of crosses in the box for the 9 (the two goals headed by Luuk de Jong and Fati) and phases possession that turn into real highlights that we had seen little in this Barça de Xavi. We hope for Barça that the dynamic symbolized by the long-awaited joint presence of Gavi and Pedri, remarkable with the Roja, is well and truly launched … A dynamic which, if it is confirmed, will owe a lot to its best enemy: Real Madrid. This Clásico fell at the right time to re-mobilize Catalan energies, like Dani Alves, a little short, but brawler, faker and exemplary of aggressiveness for young shoots. Faced with the sworn enemy, it is the relentless will to come back to the score (twice) which has been increased tenfold to the point even of tactically wanting to constantly invest the opponent’s surface. This Barça would he “stripped” to this point to go back two goals against Osasuna?

This Spanish Supercup semi-final, played far from the Nou Camp in Saudi Arabia, offered Barça the neutrality of the King Abdullah stadium specific to the finals of prestigious international competitions that it has not played since … Since … Like in the mountain stages of the Tour de France, it was Real who pulled Barça in the passes. A Barça very happy to stay symbolically in the wheel of his however hated rival and to shine during a night in mondovision while he points to 17 points of Madrid leaders in La Liga and well armed in C1 with their duo Benzema-Vinicius. Thanks to this Clásico fallen from the sky and which will calm the zealots of the Premier League, the two clubs have fully assumed their almost eternal identity: producing spectacle (for Real) and producing play (for Barça). He was there, in fact, the success, however fragile, of Barça de Xavi, Wednesday night: “We can be proud to have been competitive, it’s a step forward despite the result, we are on the right track … We have to believe it. We lost complexes and we proved that we could fight with everyone. We can leave with our heads held high ” , did he declare. Even if a defeat never really clicks, the content and the desire may have solidified the base of Barça of tomorrow.

By Chérif Ghemmour

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