November 19, 2018

Tactics Column: The Return of Barcelona

messi and Naymar

Why Luis Enrique’s Barcelona is on course for a treble after finishing last season without a trophy and how the new coach has helped Messi regain his titanic form.
BY STEVE NJUGUNA

You would have been considered a very disturbed individual if you said at the beginning of the season that Barcelona would be in contention to win 3 major trophies. Barcelona were in shambles after an unsuccessful season under Gerardo Martino where they were knocked out in all cup semi-finals and needed only a win on the last match day to win the league but could only muster a draw with eventual champions Atletico Madrid. However their dismal performance seemed to have triggered their senses as this season they look a new team. Here is what has made them click this season:

1. The reincarnation of Lionel Messi

The Argentinian forward was ruled out with long spells of injury last season and the team performances seemed to dim as his fitness levels were not the highest. However after an encouraging World cup where he delivered Argentina to the final, he has come back with signs of the old Ballon d’ Or winning Messi as he has already scored 45 goals this campaign.

2. The Brazilian Wonder kid who came of age

Much has been said about Neymar’s scandal ridden transfer to Barcelona but on the pitch, the Brazilian forward is working hard to prove his critics wrong .Striking a good partnership with his free scoring captain Messi, the Brazilian has amassed a total of 28 goals for himself so far this season.

3. Suarez’s biting effect at opposition defense

The Uruguayan entered the ranks of Barcelona on the back of a dubious incident in the 2014 World cup where he chomped at Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini leading to a 3 month ban .He has gone through a lot in the year 2014 so it was a welcome relief when his return from suspension has yielded 19 goals so far. Coupled with a brilliant Messi and a consistent Neymar, Barcelona is a formidable force against any team.

4. The phoenix called Pique and his 32 year old compatriot Jeremy

It was a considerable shock when Barcelona bought 32 year old Frenchman Jeremy Mathieu to shore up their defense. It was a bigger surprise when Gerard Pique who had a bad season, re-emerged in consistent form locking out all types of opposition. He and Mathieu have been remarkably consistent and imperative to Barcelona success so far.

5. The tactical confidence of Luis Enrique

The former Barcelona captain put Celta Vigo at an outstanding 9th position with limited resources. His return to Barcelona has been faced with many challenges but he has still managed to inspire his players to perform at their level best. His insistence on defensive solidity coupled with the traditional Barcelona philosophy of quick passing has made his team very balanced.

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