This is what is wrong with Luis Enrique’s Barca contrary to Pep’s Barca
To understand this lets have look at, what FC Barcelona are? And what do they stand for?
FC Barcelona have dominated the world football for almost a decade now, their domination starting from 2006 when they won the European crown under Frank Rijkaard. For Barca Fans, FC Barcelona are “Mes Que un Club” more than a club. They have made the most beautiful game on the planet even more beautiful by their style of play and the philosophy they follow. Usually a footballing cycle sustains for 2 or 3 years, but FC Barcelona have shown remarkable consistency over the last decade, winning trophy after trophy in the process.
However, their domination has lightened over the last two or three seasons. Although, their successes in the past seasons have managed to mask the problem at the grass root level. The answer to the question lies in those problems itself.
1. Transition from being a “Building Club” to becoming strictly a “Buying Club”
Barcelona under Pep Guardiola were truly the epitome of what they stand for, a perfection of footballing philosophy propagated by Johan Cryuff, the spiritual father of the club. That team were entirely a product of La Masia- the fabled youth system of Catalonia that has churned out some of the best footballing names of the modern era including the best of our generation Lionel Messi. It was after the tremendous success of Pep as the manager of FC Barcelona, La Masia became synonymous with Barcelonan technical excellence.
In Luis Enrique’s era, La Masia had been relegated to the background and it is almost as if the board and management have lost their faith in the academy. They seem to believe La Masia Graduates are not good enough to wear Barca shirt. If some player seems promising, he is sent out on loan to develop elsewhere or sometimes even sold to other clubs. Barcelona have been seeking success by buying the best talent out there just like their competitors i.e. Real Madrid.
2. Midfield has become Superfluous from being the Foundation of the game
The style adopted by Pep Guardiola emphasized a lot on the role of midfield in building the game. The Spanish super troika of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets always lived upto expectations by setting the world alight for attackers. Remember, the 2011 UEFA champions league final against Manchester United. That was the most one sided CL final I had ever seen. The excellent coordination between the Spanish troika coupled with Messi’s swift attacking made Barcelona a team to beat.
In Luis Enrique’s Era, what started as a little tweak in the style of play has now become a norm for today’s Barcelona. When Luis Enrique took over Barcelona. He realized, he has the most lethal line of attack who could make miracles happen, all you have to do is deliver the ball to them as quickly as possible. That’s what became a central idea of his footballing philosophy. With the old style of play it wasn’t possible because pep played through building up the game from midfield, exploiting the gaps left open by opposition defense, leaving the ball in midfield for substantial amount of time. Luis Enrique wanted the ball to spend more time with attackers increasing the probability of miracle moments. In the process, he ended up leaving the once pivotal midfield isolated.
He, no doubt, achieved success but that success was more on the back of individual brilliance of MSN rather than the technical soundness of the game. And relying on the individual brilliance to bail the team out of difficult situations has its own limitations. No doubt, Barca seem to be in a serious mess now.