In the third and final part of The Crossfire, Denise Hone of The Chelsea Blog sent across some questions to know the Barca point of view about the state of affairs in La Liga and more importantly the second leg at Camp Nou. Read what the site’s staff member Enrique had to say. You can read Part I and Part II of The Crossfire here.
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How will you feel about not winning La Liga this season?
That it’s a part of sports. No team can ever win them all, and a three season run of La Liga titles, with many illustrious trophies along the way, is a football ride that few clubs will ever experience, so I am forever grateful for it. And not only winning, playing with a beautiful style and proud club philosophy that has rightly received huge praise from all corners of the globe. So yes, Madrid won this year, but it isn’t indicative of a changing tide. Our squad is very much still young and will only grow together, and I feel that bodes well for the future. Assuming Pep commits to another year, which I believe he will, this loss to Madrid should only reignite possible waning motivation embers and give him and the entire team a new goal.
If Mourinho stays at Real, what do you think Guardiola needs to change to compete with him? Or will Guardiola move on?
I believe it is more likely that Mourinho leaves over Pep. The Madrid press itself, including reputed journalists, believe a move to Manchester City is very much on. Plus, Mourinho isn’t loyal, he has shown this. He is a collector and winning the league and maybe the Champions League will be more trophies in his personal cabinet and possibly job done in Spain. Add the fact he does not enjoy the Spanish press, and has not hidden his desire to go back to England where Fleet Street lapped him up. Pep on the other hand I do believe will stay for at least another season. If both do stay, Guardiola doesn’t have to change much at all. If Villa comes back strong, that will be a strong positive impact. Alexis and Cesc will have settled more, and all this experimentation with the 3-4-3 should be near its end point. A few additions here and there, but on the whole Barça lost the league with away draws that hadn’t happened seasons past. Plus, one has to consider Madrid’s motivation just as much, they achieved their main goal, will they be as hungry and focused next year?
Who do you think are your most dangerous players? And ours?
Drogba showed last week he is still a monster of a football player, leaving some of his theatrical moments aside. I thought he should have started last week, for just what he did to us, bullying the defense but still full of quality on the ball. Otherwise, I can’t point to danger per se. Let’s not pretend Chelsea will not be sitting as deep if not deeper and therefore the entire team becomes one defense unit. On the counters, the accuracy of a Lampard pass and clever moment and strength from Drogba are key. But 95% of the game will be in Chelsea’s half, so the key players will again be the defense and Cech.
Can you see Messi leaving Barcelona at any point?
Right now no. He still is Argentinian, but he won’t be going back there until his twilight years, so why leave his boyhood club? Plus, his home club is right now the best in the world. No other club can offer him anything Barça can’t, money included. Sure one of the oil rich boys can offer him huge salary, but he is already the highest earning player in the world and money isn’t his motivation, it’s just follows his talent. He is in a city he grew up in, playing with his friends, winning titles, in a comfortable language, with wonderful weather and a club that has built their brand around him. I don’t see a reason to leave.
Why do you think the refs are so generous with Barca?
I’ve answered to this untrue theory already.
How do you see the two-legs going?
The second leg with be much like the first, just a defensive. Barça as a team played very well in London, the Barça individual just couldn’t finish off the moves or the bar/post was in the way. Barça just need to be slightly more efficient and that will result in 2 or 3 goals. Chelsea however showed clearly that we are lacking height without Pique and Abidal, therefore I fully expect Pique to be in the team and will be important to stop the danger from set-pieces and long throws from “I-lap-ovich”. Having lost to Madrid, this is now the most important game for the rest of the year, so I expect Barça to be more forceful and a bit more risky. Xavi has said it, the team is angry and disappointed, and this game is where they hope to find redemption.
Do you think there’s any area we can trouble Barca?
Chelsea are going to park the bus and frustrate Barça and hope to hit them on the counter when we lose possession in an advanced area, much like Messi did last week. So yes, when we are pushing 8 or 9 players forward to try and get numbers in the attacking half in order to break through, a long ball versus 2 defenders will look very dangerous and cause us trouble. The counter and set pieces, those are the obvious things Barça must heed. The team just has to defend them successfully 4 or 5 times, as that is all Chelsea had in the first game.
Who do you think will be in the final?
FC Barcelona – Real Madrid
Finally, a prediction.
Editor’s Note: Like Denise, Enrique didn’t want to make a prediction.
Image credit: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images