Last stop Bucharest. Tonight marks the end of the 2012 preseason when FC Barcelona takes on Dinamo Bucharest. Yes, there is still the Gamper Trophy to come, but in 8 days official competition begins, the season begins, so the preseason will be over.
The team has remained in Sweden since the Wednesday night 0-0 draw with Manchester United, arriving yesterday in Romania to face up against 18 time domestic champions Dinamo Bucharest, the country’s 2nd most successful football club. The last 5-6 seasons have been filled with mostly disappointment and frustration for the home team, both domestically and in European competition. However, in 2012 the club did win the domestic cup competition, and were subsequent Super Cup winners against league champions CFR Cluj.
Team selection and rotation is very likely to be a factor like on Wednesday night, with “two” semi-strong teams playing each half. Reports indicate Jordi Alba is set to play from the beginning. The 2012 squad is essentially finalized, with possibly 1 new signing to come in, so the players are not exactly fighting for their spots in my opinion. Tito Vilanova is yet to taste defeat in his brief tenure, with 2 victories and 2 draws, but tactically questions can be asked. If Messi does not score 50 -70 plus goals again, there is evidence in these pre-season matches a secondary focal scorer is still missing. It will be interesting to observe whether David Villa is deployed more centrally this season, in the position where he made his name as Spain’s all time leading scorer or whether, as it looked Wednesday, Vilanova will employ a “false 9″ tactic.
Next Sunday against Real Sociedad 90 minutes begin to matter, and Vilanova is unlikely to receive any sort of honeymoon period. Results are expected immediately. So for tonight and one more abbreviated week of training, Tito Vilanova can enjoy the luxury of the experiment rather than the result. A win is surely the expectation, and somewhere between Manchester United and Raja feels about right.