Two years ago, with Guardiola at the helm, Barcelona was on the receiving end of plaudits from the greatest the game has ever seen. They prided themselves in their ability to win the ball back quickly and in doing that continue their possession based game without interruptions.
Their backline, consisting of Puyol and Pique at the centre was by far the most feared and arguably the strongest in the world. Puyol’s physicality, strength and pace combining with Pique’s tackling technique made their backline the least penetrable. No one had answers and they played a major role in helping the side win their second treble in three years.
Two years ago, the idea that Barca’s backline would not be able to cope with the speed of counter attackers as the players aged were immediately rubbished. Their invincible backline is no longer feared, and in Real Madrid’s case, loved as Barca’s defensive flaws suit the tactical nature of Madrid’s play, quick counter-attacking football which the slow Barcelona backline can no longer cope with.
Let’s face it, I’m a massive Barcelona fan, and it saddens me to think that Puyol will be retiring soon, a legend of the club who will be sorely missed. That’s exactly how Rossel and co. feel. They’re reluctance to let go of a club legend, who, in recent times has been affected by injuries which in turn has impacted the way he plays, has played it’s part in Barca’s poor form.
Puyol is no longer the same ‘beast’ as he is, the physicality, brute strength he previously possessed is no longer incorporated in his game, and his speed too has diminished, continually beaten by a much younger and faster Di Maria in the previous Clasico.
He just simply isn’t the Puyol of old.
Forget Mascherano, he isn’t a long term option and lacks the height and physicality which is need for defending. Real Madrid succeeded in their Varane trial, maybe Barca should start playing Bartra- a promising youngster from the academy, constantly compared to Pique.
Or the other option is to buy a player…
As of late many players have been linked to a move to Barca, with Rossel and Iniesta stirring up a possible transfer for Real Madrid and Spain defender Sergio Ramos.
Forget Ramos, the most ideal candidate is Mats Hummels.
German international Mats Hummels is the man for the job. At 24 years of age and standing at 1.91 metres tall, he contains the physical attributes which compliment Barca’s defensive style and may well be exactly the man Barca needed.
With comparisons to the legendary Beckenbauer, his own style of play suits that of Barcelona. Previously employed as a defensive midfielder, he is good on the ball and starting the attack from the back has been implemented to his style of play, not dissimilar to Pique. He has great a great tackling technique and is often able to outmuscle his opponents with his strength and height.
Further more he also contains an attribute Barcelona Puyol and Pique lack- speed, and has the ability to chase down the fastest men on the pitch. His sweeper like play and his knowledge of the game is often reflected in his ability to read the play and come up with crucial interceptions.
Their losses to Real Madrid and AC Milan cap off a dismal week, their worst since 2009, and with Guardiola gone, and their defenders looks weak and out of shape. Its time for Barcelona to stop tricking themselves into thinking the media is lying, time to come back down to earth. With the treble out of their reach and nearing a Champions League exit, it’s time to reflect, to be honest with themselves that the legendary Puyol just isn’t the answer to their defensive woes.