x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Much ado about nothing with Barca’s ‘crisis’

Barcelona are top of the league, but that is not enough for some fans who talk of a crisis because new coach Gerardo Martino has tweaked their style of play. Some think that tinkering with the Johan Cruyff-led style perfected by Pep Guardiola is sacrilege.

Nothing seems to be bothering Lionel Messi, right, Neymar, seocond right,  Adriano, left or Andres Iniesta during Barcelona's quick start to the top of La Liga. But fans are not happy nonetheless. Lluis Gene / AFP
Nothing seems to be bothering Lionel Messi, right, Neymar, seocond right, Adriano, left or Andres Iniesta during Barcelona's quick start to the top of La Liga. But fans are not happy nonetheless. Lluis Gene / AFP

The last time Barcelona had less than 50 per cent of the possession in a match, their coach’s departure was imminent. Frank Rijkaard knew his time was up after his side were destroyed 4-1 by the champions Real Madrid in 2008.

Barcelona won six trophies the following year and so dominant was their style of play, they never achieved less than 50 per cent of possession in a game until Saturday – over five years and 300 games later. Four goals were again scored in Madrid but by Barcelona as they beat Rayo Vallecano 4-0.

Barcelona have won all six league games so far. They are top of the league, but that is not enough for some fans who talk of a crisis because new coach Gerardo Martino has tweaked their style of play. Some think that tinkering with the Johan Cruyff-led style perfected by Pep Guardiola is sacrilege.

They delight in Barca dominating matches; it is in their DNA.

Yet Martino is not concerned by the criticism. He is more interested in three points and points out that Barca still dominate games. Sandro Rosell, the club president, was also right in stating that a crisis – well, by Barca’s standards at least – was 50 years ago when they finished sixth, 18 points behind the leaders.

A younger generation of Barca fans think success is the norm, with a set style that has and can continue to conquer all. Yet football evolves, and Barca, too.

They needed to be less predictable and they are. They are also winning every week. Some crisis.

sports@thenational.ae