Real Sociedad, Atlético de Madrid and Villarreal. The first three places in the league standings are a sincere claim of Spanish football. The most powerful state championship on the football world is no longer a trademark shared by Barça and Real Madrid. The timings of the coronavirus pandemic have exaggerated the shortcomings of the two transatlantic, distracted, increasingly volatile. The fleetingness of newspaper cover afternoons is imposed on the regularity that ensures performance. Comparisons with the reliability of the Cholo Simeone, with only two goals conceded, or the combinatorial proposal of Imanol Alguacil in Anoeta are irritating for the ceiling of expectations.
The leitmotif is the same. Barça suffers from the novelty. The arrival of Ronald Koeman has meant a change in the conception of the collective game, the eleven, the policy of rotations and the filtering of who adds or who forms the bottom of the closet. Evolution is slow. The team, abused by injuries, is still waiting for the final wave to bring it closer to its standard version. At the moment there are isolated cases, such as Sunday’s match against Osasuna (4-0). The project is playing its credibility in the coming weeks by the record of 4 wins in 9 league games. The day-to-day system is a priority, especially if it is accepted (as it is) that Barça are not in the group of favorites to win the Champions League.
Resultism is the first step, more or less brilliant. Barça has parked the plasticities of DNA because it has no alternative. It should be limited to trying to strike a positive balance between mistakes and successes. He lacks reliability in the goal and has no footballer in it top-10 of state tournament finalists. Ansu Fati is his first representative, and he will be out for practically the rest of the season. Next is Leo Messi, the twenty-second, with three goals. In the creation section, the diagnosis is repeated: Jordi Alba is the Barça player who has completed more than three final passes, one more than Sergi Roberto. That two defenders are dedicated to ensuring the effectiveness of the offensive line is a wake-up call in the middle of the field, which should gain more weight in the double-pivot model and four players with freedom of movement in front of the opposing goal.
The solution is for the footballers, because Koeman will not change his premises. Immobility is shared. It seems that Zinedine Zidane also lives with a single letter. Madrid maintains the essence that made it champion of the Champions League despite the obviousness of the squad. “It’s harder to win a League than a Champions League. I’ve always said it. It doesn’t change anything. I’ve said it all my life,” the French coach said at a press conference in 2018, giving value to the historic results of the eternal rival. The records for this edition of the tournament seem to prove him right. Whites have gone from regaining the state throne in the summer to approaching restructuring without conviction. They have accumulated the same defeats as last year (3) against smaller teams (Cádiz, the current Valencia and Alava), sign the worst record of goals conceded in the Zidane era and the most discreet in attacking tasks since 2009 The gala eleven has been lost. The distance between the leadership of Eden Hazard and the residual roles of Isco Alarcón and Nacho Fernández is getting smaller. The trading cards are repeated downwards. Symptomatic.
The difference of realities
The difference with the Camp Nou is the context. Whites assume the staff has weakened. Florentino Pérez has prioritized the remodeling of the Santiago Bernabéu and the 2021 transfer market to hit the table. It will be one of the windows that will mark the next decade of the elite, with Kylian Mbappé, Erling Haaland and Eduardo Camavinga playing fake free agents. Madrid is waiting for its chance because it will have salary space and positions that will require a first sword. That Zidane has to be sacrificed for the poor results of this course seems a minor evil. Barça does not have and will not have this luxury due to the many electoral promises made by the pre-candidates for the presidency of the institution with the ghost of Neymar.
His economic mortgage following the bets on Dembélé, Coutinho and numbers Antoine Griezmann (with Frenkie De Jong exhausting the benefit of the doubt by the adaptation process) drowns the sports movements. There have been more than 400 million that have not generated a real return and will hardly be repaid. Recovering them is an impossible undertaking with the new rules of the coronavirus era. Spending to spend now is reckless. Barça can’t fight to convince cracks and have to juggle to make up the number of substitutes: give confidence to Carles Aleñá, first team player to Riqui Puig even though he won’t have minutes, keep Junior Firpo because he won’t there is supply and demand, and make good the choice of Martin Braithwaite. He has no more and the League is not waiting. It is the new state football law. Not even the ubiquity of Leo Messi can keep the options in the title during the hot stretch of the second round.