The preseason is over, and in short the good news is FC Barcelona did not suffer a defeat despite some tough opposition in Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain. But what else happened? Catalan daily sports paper Sport put together the top 10 stories, positive and negative, from the 2012 preseason. After the jump is a summary of Sport’s 10 notable moments.
10 – For the first time in four years, Lionel Messi enjoyed a regular FC Barcelona preseason, reporting on time and playing only the schedule’s preseason games. The increased rest and more controlled preparation has already shown its positive influence on the man, scoring 5 goals thus far.
9 – The continuity from Pep Guardiola to Tito Vilanova is as planned. No major changes are evident and it’s clear the same ideology is being taken forward. However, it seems Vilanova is returning somewhat to the roots, less interested in the 3–4–3 variation.
8 – Puyol, Fontas, and Villa are back! Villa is noted as being particularly important.
7 – Marc Bartra and Sergi Roberto embraced their chance and were bright lights in all the matches. The impressive performances of Bartra are reported to have convinced Tito Vilanova he is ready and less transfer focus has been put into finding a new center back. Roberto, the player with the 2nd most preseason minutes, was solid in all his games and is seen as the direct replacement for Seydou Keita.
6 – 14 goals is a welcome number, but remember 8 come from one match. Issues in the final third of the pitch were noticeable against PSG and Manchester United.
5 – Defensive frailties? Despite only conceding 3 goals, there were moments of mental lapses from the defense. The defense will need to focus up when official competition begins.
4 – Jordi Alba played very few minutes due to his Olympic campaign. He has had only 1 week of true holidays and rest this off season.
3 – One reinforcement missing. Failed attempts (or suspected as such) to sign Thiago Silva, Javi Martinez, and Daniel Agger have led the club to seriously pursue Arsenal’s Alex Song. Sport is of the opinion a personal agreement is done, but negotiating with Arsenal will be another story.
2 – The club was lucky to avoid injury despite the pitches in Morocco and Romania. Bit of a snobbish point in my opinion.
1 – And to end, the worst news of the preseason, a second major injury to young center back Marc Muniesa. Muniesa was injured most of the previous year, and another serious knee injury with a minimum 6 months out is not at all what the young man needs to develop.
Sport also published a story on the playing minutes accumulated by players during the preseason. The top man was Davi Alves with 303 minutes, affirming his critical role in the FC Barcelona project. Other notable minutes were Alexis (276), who looks very sharp indeed despite when it comes to finishing, Bartra (273), and Messi (272). Afellay was also heavily involved with 264 minutes, which should really benefit a player still struggling to find his role in the system. His lovely goal versus Dinamo should go a long way to helping his confidence, and possibly the belief of others in him. Lastly, Rafinha played 202 minutes and his development looks promising. The younger brother of Thiago was very confident in possession, physically strong, and showed an eye for getting into the box and scoring goals.
Source: Sport; Image: FC Barcelona