In Conversation With A Barca Blogger
Bibin from All About FC Barcelona has been kind enough to spend some time giving his thoughts on this week’s Champions League clash and Barcelona in general.
ACLF: Over the two legs, Barcelona is the favourites. How do you see the two matches going?
Bibin: I believe the First leg at Emirates is the crucial one. We have to go for a win there or at least a goal scoring draw. If we failed to score at Emirates, we will be in trouble. The key in the tie will be how Toure Perform. If he continues his good form, Arsenal could be in trouble (only if Guardiola picks him ahead of Busquets). Also Xavi’s return helps a lot. I think we will win the match at Emirates and then draw the return leg.
What makes you believe you will win at Arsenal?
Three reasons. First one is the fact that Barca will be more comfortable with Arsenal’s playing style. Second is the central defence you have got. Vermaelen is class but Sol Campbell is past his prime. Messi could make life difficult for him. Third one is the fact that the Barca squad is more experienced in terms of these kinds of matches. Even then this is going to be a tight match.
It seems that you think Barca will have problems keeping clean sheets in both legs?
It will be hard for both the teams to keep clean sheets in this tie. It is going to be a display of attacking football and definitely goals will come from both sides. Add to it, the occasional mistakes both our defences are used to make, goal will be guaranteed.
Iniesta is definitely out of the 1st Leg and highly doubtful for the 2nd. How much will Barca miss him?
We will surely miss him. He is an integral part of Barca midfield and forms the most lethal midfield alliance with Xavi. This injury surely complicates the first leg for Barca. He is expected to return for the second leg. Luckily we have Xavi returning now and that should ease the headache a bit. A midfield of Toure, Busquets and Xavi should still be able to do the job for Barca.
Henry has said that he would have preferred not to play Arsenal – do you think he will start in either leg? Is age finally catching up with him?
I believe we will start with him at the Emirates, especially because of his experience and knowledge of Arsenal. He is also one player who is past his prime. But he still is able to contribute to Barca’s success, that’s the quality of the talent he possesses. This season most probably will be his last season at Barca.
Where do you see the main danger from Arsenal?
That’s simple. I believe the main danger for Barca will come from Arshavin and Fabregas. Arshavin would be able to exploit the space left by Alves while going forward. And Arshavin always is a big game performer. Fabregas also is key, especially with his ability to split defence. But for me containing Arshavin will be the key for Barca.
No mention of Nasri or Rosicky. Walcott’s pace could trouble the left side of your defence if he plays. And what of our own version of Lionel Messi, Emmanuel Eboue?
They all are quality players, but I doubt they have the command on the game like Fabregas and Arshavin. Just watch your big games this season; it’s these two guys performance that decided those matches. When they failed, your team struggled against bigger teams.
Alex Hleb said that he felt Arsenal moved the ball quicker and were less direct than Barcelona
Arsene Wenger always loved the Barca style of play and with the quality of players you got, that’s not a big surprise. And it is also due to the fact Barca is playing at a much lower tempo this season compared to last season.
The defence is seen as the weak link in the side which seems harsh as they have kept 25 or so clean sheets this season. Is it an area which concerns you?
Isn’t it strange that one of the tidiest defences in Europe is considered a probable weak link? That’s life at Barca. It may not be entirely wrong. The defence has a definitive weakness against aerial ball especially when there is a strong CF like Drogba. But why the defence is getting exposed at times is due to the fact that they are an integral part in Barca’s attack. Arsenal Fans can definitely relate to that.
Another reason is the high defensive line we hold and the full backs getting forward most of the time. That’s why there is always trouble if the midfield fails to dominate possession.
Lionel Messi grabs headlines for his attacking displays; the suggestion is that he is carrying the side.
If you look at the whole season, then definitely not true. But yes, in the last few matches we have depended heavily on him to win matches. Luckily Messi is not complaining. But the last two matches showed that many of our players especially Toure and Iniesta are coming back to form and we should see them contributing heavily for Barca. But still Barca might look to Messi to score majority of goals, as Ibra still is struggling in front of goal. But he should have more creative assists from others.
The perception is that Barca has an outstanding starting XI but not too much depth to the squad.
Again the arguments do have some merit. What we are missing is some quality cover at the front left position and the centre forward position. But the problem is with the amazing quality of youngsters that are coming from the Youth Academy. So I think management always sees whether they can give enough chances to players like Bojan, Pedro, Jeffren, Jonathan etc. Again it’s quite tricky, just watch what happened with Gudjohnsen or Hleb in that case, it is not that easy to replace the starting XI and they always struggle to find quality playing time. And in Barca the youth products always will be preferred.
There was a lot of talk that Bojan would move on last summer. Perhaps Pedro is in a similar position? Is Barca facing a wider issue of talented youngsters leaving? Are the club ready for that?
There is a high possibility of Bojan leaving on loan next summer. Guardiola has preferred Pedro ahead of him. Guardiola looks like don’t not have much confidence in Bojan but Pedro is his chosen one. So he will never leave. Bojan’s recent form has been ok and most importantly he is getting some playing time, so he also may decide to stay. With such an excellent youth system, we may have to accept the possibility of some of these talented players leaving. The key is to identify the best and retain them.
This has to be asked…Do you think Cesc will join Barcelona in the summer? Who would he replace in the side?
This is a very risky question, especially considering that this is going to get posted on an Arsenal blog. I will answer this question in two parts:
1) Should Barca Go For Cesc?
Ok, my answer will surprise many but I firmly believe that Cesc will be a costly buy, one which Barca may not need at this moment. If Cesc arrives, then one of the options will be to move Iniesta forward. That is something I am against. I don’t want a midfield minus Iniesta.
Iniesta may not score many goals or may not have too many shot on target, but he provides something to our midfield which makes it the best. He with his constant tricks and skills and amazing ball possession and passing skills give the forwards lot of space to operate with.
What we really need is a guy to replace Henry on the front, someone like Silva or may be a Ribery without injury. There is no doubt that Fabregas is the ideal replacement for Xavi, but Xavi should play at this level for some more years (touch wood). By that time one of Thiago, Jonathan etc should be ready.
2) Will Cesc Join Barca this season?
No, if Arsenal wins some Silverware. Otherwise there is a high chance. Why I say high chance is because Real Madrid will be looking to pounce on him and no Barca management can afford that to happen. So we will definitely go for him if Real Madrid makes a even a slightest of noise.
Laporta though is obsessed with re-signing Cesc! Madrid cannot even say who their coach will be next week, let alone in the summer!! Most Madrileños will be praying that Arsenal dump Barca out of the Champions League, the shame of Puyol lifting the trophy in the Bernabeu would be too much for them to bear!
It’s always the story with Madrid. But remember in Madrid, the President runs the show, especially the transfer sagas. Barcelona winning the Champions League at Bernabeu will see Madrid making another mess of the transfer market. So I think everyone should be worried about that. I firmly believe that Laporta is obsessed to bring Cesc to Barca because of the reported interest by Madrid. Don’t blame him, he cannot allow such a scenario.
It was said that on the day Laporta first took over as President, his predecessor left him Fabregas’ file with a note, “You will have to explain how this one got away”. The question is whether Cesc would be the player he now is had he stayed or has leaving been the best thing for his career?
Nobody can say what would have happened had Cesc stayed at Barca. Arsenal did play a huge part in the development of Fabregas. But again you can’t say that, has he stayed at Barca he wouldn’t have developed into a quality player. You are talking about a team which developed the likes of Xavi, Iniesta etc in recent times and some exceptional midfielders in the past.
Laporta finally leaves the club this summer. Good news or bad?
I personally would love to see him continue. But there is no need to feel bad. In Barca it is the system which produces success. But it will be a dishonour not to appreciate his contribution. He was the one who placed Barca firmly back in the European Map.
But then there was a bit of luck which went his way. Just Imagine, What would have happened if he managed to sign Beckham instead of Ronaldinho? I think he has managed to keep in place a system that should continue the good work. He rightly has put the emphasis back on Youth academy.
Most Arsenal fans hate Laporta and will be glad to see the back of him. Next will getting shot of Florentino Perez!
Every Barca fan would love to see the back of Perez, but he will not go that easily. He will make another mess of the entire footballing scenario before leaving.
You wouldn’t want to see a Galactico approach at Barcelona then?
I would like to see Barca buy quality players because they have to offer something to the team, not because they are stars. The Galactico policy is all about buying stars. I firmly believe in developing stars. Remember in Messi, Iniesta and Xavi we have already saved at least 200 million in transfer money.
Pep Guardiola will go down as one of the most successful managers in history. Is he good or simply fortunate to have an outstanding team?
Bit of both. He is good but not excellent and definitely he is blessed with one of the best sides of all time. I don’t regard him as a tactical genius; he is more of a disciplinarian. And that was what this Barca side needed. He had made errors with his tactics and has made me angry many times with his decisions of not utilizing the whole substitution quota. But we should all remember that he is just in his third season as a coach. He will definitely improve and should end up as one of the greatest coach of all time.
His contract is due to be renewed but with the elections there is some doubt about whether he will sign a new one?
He will definitely sign the deal. But I like the attitude of signing deal for a year; it helps him keep his focus.
Thanks to Bibin for his time. ’til Tomorrow.
Posted on March 30, 2010, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Champions League, FC Barcelona, Football, Premier League, Soccer. Bookmark the permalink. 403 Comments.