Barcelona won their 4th league title in 5 years at the weekend. Their 22nd league title overall. But it was won months before as they haven’t really had competition in the league for most of the season with the drama happening at Real Madrid. Barca have been the best side in the league by far, with manager Tito Vilanova stating “[highlight]I have no doubt that we are the best team in Spain this season … and by some distance.[/highlight]” And it’s true.
It’s still a league title, and Vilanova’s first in his first season in charge, however Barcelona haven’t played as well as they’d have wanted to this season, not like previous years anyway. That may have to do with Vilanova missing games due to cancer (which thankfully he has the all clear). It may also have to do with lack of trying, as Jose Mourinho conceded the title before Christmas. But this league title doesn’t feel, I don’t want to say important, because winning any trophy or league is important, but it’s almost an anticlimax, as they’ve had it won for so long. Maybe the fans are spoilt, and expect more of their players in Europe, or maybe they’re just used to winning the league, but I’d have expected a much better reaction from the fans.
Whether Barcelona’s season has been successful is up to your own opinion, and I feel as though, yes, winning a league is always the objective, but their players haven’t played as well, they’re in need of central defenders badly, and have been for quite some time. We saw them in Europe without Messi, they created nothing, losing to Bayern Munich in the semi-finals 7-0 on aggreggate, and I’m sure they won’t be happy with how they’ve performed as a team this season as they have expectations each and every season to do better than the last. The dominance of Bayern must still be in their heads, and they’ll want revenge in Europe next season.
I feel we’ll see a few changes to the team, with one or two new centre-backs, as they’ve been playing Adriano, a left attacking full-back, who is only 5’8, at the heart of defence, and the injuries to Puyol and Pique throughout the season haven’t helped settle the back four as it’s always changing. They also need a replacement for David Villa, who I felt should have played more games this season, and would have offered a lot more goals if he played over Alexis Sanchez and Pedro as both players failed to find the net early on in the season. Another player who could be on the move is Cesc Fabregas. I always feared this would happen to Cesc, coming off the bench, after his move from Arsenal, as they don’t need a replacement for Xavi, Iniesta or Messi. Cesc will want first-team football, and he’ll want to be the main man at a team, like he was for Arsenal.
For people who think Barcelona are past their peak, I feel differently. They may need to make tactical changes to their style of play as teams will look at how Bayern played against them, but keep in mind that was without Messi. However, I’d hate to think Barcelona are nothing without Messi with all the other talent in the team.
As for next season, we’ll see a much stronger, better team who will go on to win the league again, as Real Madrid have a shake up.