El Centrocampista

BARÇA STRIKE IT LUCKY – How season disruption could work in Guardiola’s favour.

By Lee Roden

La Liga journalists find themselves in a strange position this weekendWe were all supposed to be waxing lyrical about the opening weekend of the league and what it means for each team’s respective campaigns.

The AFE strike has quickly put an end to that prospect, and so we are left to consider what else there really is to write about!

In the case of F.C Barcelona, the league strike has thrown up an easily overlooked morsel of information.

Barça were due to open their league campaign against a new look Malaga side this weekend.

Instead, they will (most likely) begin against Vila-real on the 29th of August.

Strangely, this may actually work in Barça’s favour. Whilst Vila-real are never to be underestimated, and it is true that the quality of Malaga this season still remains to be seen, what is certain is that Guardiola’s men still lack match sharpness.

The sloppy manner in which they conceded both goals against Real Madrid last Wednesday exemplifies this.

Now however, due to the strike, Guardiola will be able to fit in several extra training sessions in anticipation of the yellow submarine.

It gets better.

F.C Barcelona has confirmed that the annual Joan Gamper match will go ahead on Monday night so Barça will not only gain from extra training, but also from a match against quality opposition in the shape of Serie A side Napoli.

The match against the Italians will allow players to gain match fitness without impacting their league campaign.

Traditionally the Gamper has been used to allow players lacking match fitness a chance to play, as well as providing opportunities for fringe players and youngsters.

The unique position of this year’s Gamper will not have gone over Pep Guardiola’s head, and I suspect we may see much more of a full strength squad than is usually the case.

Strikes have led to cancellation of the opening day games.

Cesc Fabregas, for instance, will have the chance to get a full match under his belt with his new teammates.

Likewise, Guardiola can also allow more game time for what seems to be his definitive back four in the absence of Carles Puyol (consisting of Alves, Mascherano, Pique and Abidal respectively).

Allowing the defence more time to play will only benefit Barça in anticipation of the Vila-real match, and with Gerard Pique looking particularly frail against Madrid; Pep will hope to iron out the kinks in his defensive armour.

Javier Mascherano also looks to be improving with more game time, and turned in a much better display against Madrid in the second leg of the Supercup than the first.

If he can continue to improve upon his performances, perhaps he can completely silence his doubters regarding his ability to play in the centre of defence.

Whilst it is dangerous to exaggerate the impact all of this may have on Barça’s league campaign, it should be noted that small details (and indeed, luck) are often pivotal to the outcome of this tightly contested league.

In Madrid, Jose Mourinho’s men will not have the quick opportunity to bounce back from their defeat at the Camp Nou, and instead will have to wait another seven days and allow their loss to stew in their minds.

This can only work to Barça’s advantage, as the feeling still seems to be that Guardiola’s men need to catch up with Madrid in terms of sharpness and rapid movement of the ball. We shall see.


  1. Jason Bailey (@jamandabailey)

    21 August, 2011 at 15:11

    “Guardiola can also allow more game time for what seems to be his definitive back four in the absence of Carles Puyol (consisting of Adriano, Mascherano, Pique and Abidal respectively).”

    Uh, Alves???

  2. leeroden

    21 August, 2011 at 16:59

    An error, thanks for flagging it up though. Too many names beginning with A.

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