The Spanish La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona have experienced a different situation this season. Real Madrid have been convincing, meanwhile Barcelona are still looking for the right form to get back on track. Real Madrid’s victory against city rivals, Atletico Madrid seemed to fulfill Madrid’s power in the Spanish La Liga. Last season’s La Liga champions, Atletico were helpless in the face of Carlo Ancelotti’s organization of play.
Ancelotti, who replaced Zinadene Zidane at the start of this season, managed to polish the appearance of Real Madrid. Despite being left behind by experienced defenders, Raphael Verane and Sergio Ramos, Ancelotti can take advantage of the available players. E. Militao and D. Alaba become a new tandem in Madrid’s back line. If Ramos and Verane choose to stay, it is not impossible that Militao will rarely be used and Alaba is shifted to the left-back position as he often played when he was at Bayern Munich.
So, the departure of Verane and Ramos is not a regrettable loss. In fact, it was a blessing because Madrid found another player, who was also performing at the best level. Madrid’s victory against Atletico also seemed to confirm Madrid’s position as favorites to win this season. It’s no exaggeration to say that Madrid has slowly locked the La Liga title this season.
The reason is, it’s not only Atletico who have become mad at Madrid. The teams that are in the big six like Real Sociedad and Sevilla have felt the sting of Ancelotti’s troops this season. Even Barcelona is also helpless against Madrid at Camp Nou. Therefore, Madrid seems to have started slowly locking the Spanish La Liga title this season. With Sevilla in 2nd place, the points margin is already 8 points away.
In addition to a fairly wide point gap with closest rivals, Ancelotti’s factor is one of Madrid’s strengths. This veteran Italian coach has eaten salt in the face of various competitions in Europe. Ancelotti knows very well how to take advantage of the momentum. Seen in the match against Atletico Madrid.
Against Diego Simeone’s men, Ancelotti took advantage of the effectiveness of his attackers in spotting Atletico’s mistakes. Atletico’s game is also not too developed because the Madrid players appear solid in every line. The midfield trio of L. Modric, Casemiro and T. Kross remains Ancelotti’s mainstay. This midfield trio looks solid in managing Madrid’s game, guarding the back line, and building connections in every line.
Madrid’s victory over his city brothers seemed to clarify who won this season. The opportunity is becoming clearer because Ancelotti knows very well how to keep the momentum going. Evidently, Ancelotti who was not too blessed with new players and even left by some important players can still take advantage of the available squad. At this point, Ancelotti knows to mix the right formula in building the strength of Madrid who continues to appear consistent.
Unlike Madrid, which has found consistency, its eternal rival Barcelona is still running lame. Xavi Hernandez, who was signed as coach to replace Ronald Koeman, has not provided a bright spot for Barca’s fate this season. The 2-2 draw against Osasuna showed the face and situation of Barca. Barca is in an unstable condition.
The performance of the Barca players has not been solid. The young players do seem to appear fast and full of energy. However, the solidity in possession of the ball, controlling the game, and at the same time keeping the ball from grabbing the opponent is not so visible.
Xavi’s Tika-taka is not yet visible. In fact, Barca seem to tend to appear attacking and pressing by taking advantage of the speed of young players such as O. Dembele and A. Ezzalzouli. Then, the Barca players also tend to choose to shoot from outside the penalty box. The players also often make the wrong passes, easily read by the opponent, or even mistakenly see the movement of teammates.
Reading the performance of Barca cons Osasuna, Xavi has a pretty big job. One of Xavi’s jobs is to restore Barca’s identity as a team with Tiki-taka DNA. The fast foot-to-foot game that Xavi played when he was still actively playing became an expectation at Camp Nou at this time. However, those expectations may still collide with the club’s situation.
The players look unable to revive the identity of the Barca game. Barca fans need to be patient. Young players still need flying hours to perform at the highest level. This season it looks impossible for Barca to win the Spanish La Liga trophy when considering Barca’s performance against Osasuna. Perhaps it will be possible if Xavi can add to his squad with the right players.
After all, Tika-taka’s DNA developed not only because of academy players. It also develops alongside the great talents of other clubs. Barca president, Joan Laporta has reportedly confirmed Xavi’s desire to get new players this season. Indeed, this intention is still difficult to realize considering the club’s financial condition is not yet stable.
Therefore, Barca may or may need to sell players in order to get funds to bring in new players. Rumors circulated that Barca would not only sell players like Coutinho and Samuel Umtiti, Barca also looked brave to sell goalkeeper Ter Stegen and midfielder Frengki de Jong. This step is quite bold. However, this could be one solution to fix the Barca situation which is still in disarray.
The young players must be retained. However, they also need the right assistance and mentors in order to grow as quality players. Lionel Messi when he was launched from La Masia had the right mentor, namely Ronaldinho, who was bought from PSG. Not only that, Messi can also learn from Thiery Henry who was brought in from Arsenal and Samuel Eto’o in the front row.
Thanks to his experience and closeness with these great players, Messi has grown. Long story short, Messi became a mainstay of Barca for more than 10 years before moving to PSG. The same could probably be true for the current situation. The young players are retained and looking for the right players to accompany the young players. Of course, this can happen if Barca dare to make certain decisions, including selling some star players.
Barca is currently in a mess. The solution is not easy. Only time will tell how Xavi can bring Barca out of this topsy-turvy situation.