Few can argue that the Barcelona team of recent seasons doesn’t rank up there with the very best football sides ever produced.
Under the watchful eye of Pep Guardiola, and more recently Tito Vilanova, the effortless control of possession, fast moving pace of attack and sheer statistical dominance has meant that few, if any, have been able to come up trumps against them.
This year they were magnificent once more, reclaiming the La Liga title back from rivals Real Madrid in awe-inspiring fashion.The shockingly abrupt end to their European campaign however, coupled perhaps with Spain’s humbling in the Confederations Cup final, has given them more than just food for thought over the summer break.
It seems that teams have now swallowed their pride and come to terms with the fact that they’re not going to beat Barcelona through outplaying them at their own game.
Instead teams such as Celtic and more famously Bayern Munich have fell back upon a new counter-attacking technique has been used to good effect this year against the Spanish champions, involving soaking up tremendous pressure before hitting on the break.
Despite Barca’s brilliance through the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and of course Lionel Messi, one flaw has been recurrent in their few short-comings of recent times - their lack of a plan B.
When their usual style of destroying a team through expert vision, clinical passing accuracy and frequent moments of genius doesn’t prevail, Barcelona begin to look a lot less unbeatable, as was illustrated in their dismantling at the hands of Bayern Munich over two legs in last season’s Champions League semi-final.
The same could be said about Spain, who have adopted a very similar playing fashion to that of Barcelona, and who field a squad filled with Barca players.
The tiki-taka, though still breathtakingly brilliant to watch, seems to have been sussed by many of Europe’s elite, and unless coach Tito Vilanova can implement a strategy on which to fall back on should opponents ‘park the bus’, then the Catalan’s could find it increasingly difficult to pick teams apart in the same manner that we are used to witnessing.
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