Sunday, September 23, 2012

Two Takes on Barça

The first: this team has 15 points in five games, despite playing really well just twice, and playing outright poorly twice. (The Valencia game was in between.) The Osasuna and the Granada games would have both been losses last year, which is a big part of the reason they fell short in La Liga. (Madrid was great last year, but they also caught late-in-game breaks where Barça often didn't.) And their biggest rivals are eight points back, and look as though a collapse upon themselves is entirely plausible, if not likely. Messi is scoring goals every bit as furiously as during his record-setting pace set last year. They picked up a pair of nice transfers, and, assuming a regression to the mean following a dismal spell of injuries last year, they should remain healthier this year. If they can pick up 15 points playing the way they have thus far, when they inevitably kick things into gear as the season carries on, they'll be in great shape.

The second: the backline is a shambles, with their two best options for central defense out for several weeks and two natural mid-fielders starting starting in their place. When Xavi is out, the offense doesn't run. When Iniesta is out, the offense doesn't hum. The offensive reliance on Messi is worse than ever, with Alexis, David Villa, and Pedro all unable to find the net with any consistency. And now Messi is (uncharacteristically) bitching at Villa on the field, in plain view of the cameras. They have played badly in four of eight competitive games this year (the vuelta against Madrid, the two games mentioned above, and the Champions League opener), and a month into the season is too advanced for these to be mere reflections of kinks that will be inevitably ironed out.

Not sure which I find more convincing. I sure am glad about that eight-point margin though.

No comments: