1. Tiki Taka Ini Dribble Combo Ney
Every press conference, Gerardo Martino defends his team – and by extension, himself – against accusations that we don’t play as beautifully as before, that we’re playing badly because we don’t hold on to the ball as long as under previous coaches.
Tata has introduced a bit more directness in our attack. Is the way we play better? Time will tell. Probably not, because for some time Guardiola pretty much achieved perfection. However, perfection in football gets found out. It gets unperfected. So we must move on and adapt.
Well here’s a newsflash to journalists throughout Spain: Our spells of possession are shorter because we pass the ball to create opportunities and not to hold on to it. We use possession to attack, and not to defend. We still enjoy more than 65% the ball but we score from counter attacks instead of conceding from them. Yet you complain.*
Now watch the above video again and tell me that was not beautiful. The move starts with Don Andres, Fab Four, and Mr. Glass ticking the taka, continues with Iniesta ghosting past several opponents before combining cleverly with Mr. Da Silva Santos Junior and culminates with swinging the ball to Alexis, who attempts to thread through a cross. Sure, we ended up losing possession. And of course, Lexus could have opted to pass the ball back and wait for a better opportunity-creating opportunity. But we create opportunities by creating opportunities. I for one like how this coach has our team play. Oh, and by the way, did I mention we won 4-0?
2. “The basics is the first touch. With that you can create your own time”
I love Alexis. I loved him when we bought him. I loved him our first season. I loved him and defended him while at the same time heaping gigantic buckets of scorn upon the poor guy for missing chances my unborn daughter would have scored from my girlfriend’s belly, or for at times seeming hapless whenever a ball was played in his general direction. I feel my love for Alexis Sanchez has been vindicated this season. Some wanted to sell him because he sucked. Others wanted to sell him because he will be great at another club but not at Barça. I said yes, he sort of sucked, but he can still be great at Barça. And look what happened…
He is kind of great, right?
All kinds of great, really. But Lexus, for the love of God, please, please, pleeeeease improve upon your first touch! Those are two one-on-ones you’re giving up for receiving the ball like you’re wearing astronaut boots on a tight rope. Tata, Jordi, Rubi, have this man do drills the rest of the year!
We love it when Masía players make their debuts in the Camp Nou. Yesterday Adama Traoré (17), who was born in Catalunya from Malian parents and has played for Barcelona since the age of eight, saw his dream fulfilled and made his first appearance with the big boys, subbing Neymar ten minutes before the final whistle. With a stutterstep like Ali Farka Touré plucking on his guitar, he slipped through two defenders, avoided a third and took a low hard shot which was saved by the keeper.
I’m not gonna say that Adama has a great future at Barcelona, because I don’t know. What I will say is that by comparison, Gerard Deulofeu, the most widely praised young talent to come out of the Masía since Thiago de Alcantará a couple of seasons ago, debuted in the same position as Traoré and made zero impact as he got pushed around like a boy among men. Here’s hoping our man keeps developing. Amazingly Martino has given young Adama first-team minutes without ever having started a game for Barcelona B. Am I as naive as to expect Eusebio Sacristan to make some changes soon?
*Although I doubt you’re reading.
**Nobody had a first touch like Bergkamp, one of the most elegant footballers to have ever graced the pitch. Despite drawing interest from Cruijff, who had given him his debut as a seventeen-year old at Ajax almost ten years before, he chose Arsenal when leaving Italy because he didn’t want to be a player signed by a coach whom the president didn’t trust. Sure enough, Nuñez sacked Cruijff the following season. Oh, the things that could have been!