Martí Perarnau is a renown Barça analyst and recently on his blog, he offered a complete analysis of the squad for this season. The analysis, written by Rafael León (@_rafaleon_ ), can be found here, with a translation after the jump. Part 1 is dedicated to goalkeepers and defense.
Goalkeepers: Valdés and Pinto
In this position, it is logical to continue with both keepers, as there are no reasons to make a change. Vìctor owns the goal as he is one of the best keepers in the world, while Pinto is the perfect sub: he brings experience to the team, he accepts his place in it, he is a key member of the squad in terms of atmosphere, and does the job when needed.
-B team: The first option as keeper for Barça B is Oier Olazábal. However, he hasn’t showed a performance that could allow him to join the first squad, except in case of emergency.
- Staying (for sure): Alves, Piquè, Mascherano, Puyol and Adriano.
Dani starts this season trying to improve, after an irregular performance last season. He seems willing to show he is still the best right back in the world. Gerard Piquè is in a similar situation: after a strange season, he did remarkably well in the Eurocup. His return to his best will be a key element for me to recover his place in this team. However, he’ll have to “fight” for a place in central defense with Mascherano and Puyol. The first, a midfielder converted into a centre back, is doing a superb job at that position, while the captain will be fighting to make fantastic appearences if he keeps himself injury free. Lastly, Adriano won’t have an easy season, despite ending last season as a regular thanks to his very good performances. He has managed to reduce the impact of injuries on his game, and has improved a lot in his defensive qualities. The rumours of him being transfered were strange, as there are few defenders that can maintain his position in all four corners of the field.
- Staying (and we hope he can play again): Eric Abidal. All we can do is wish him a full recovery, as football comes second in this case. In the squad, his abscence will be noticeable, as there probably is no other left back with his defensive game that can also play attacking football. He was capable of recovering the first time, and this season, he has already said he wants to come back for Christmas. To a guy with such character, any challenge might seem reacheable. Even this one.
- Probably leaving the club: Fontàs.
Andreu will proably end up playing for another team. In his first year as a member of the Barça squad (2011-12), he didn’t have many opportunities to play, and even so, he didn’t show a performance that people would demand for a defender at Barça. He is not compatible with Piqué, as both struggle with speed. It wasn’t all his fault, of course, as much of his season was affected by a long injury, from which he is fully recovered now. Still, it will be difficult for him to stay.
- New signing: Jordi Alba.
He is one of the most wanted left backs on the football market, and one of the best rising stars too because of his young age. He is only 23 years old. If he mantains the football he showed during the Eurocup, he will be a hit. However, he also produces a certain doubt on how the team will adapt to playing with a left back and a right back that both like to attack. There is another element of doubt too, as the aerial game that was possible with Abidal (mostly on defense) will be affected with his inclusion in the team.
- From Barça B: Montoya, Bartra and Muniesa.
Montoya, after a great game with the first team at the Copa del Rey final, seems to have earned his spot in the first team. He will be a backup for Dani Alves. Bartra seems to have won the race to be the fourth centre back (after Puyol, Mascherano and Piqué), due to his good performances during the preseason, his great potential, and the difficulties in signing a centre back for a team like Barça for a reasonable price. Lastly, Muniesa will have to face another long term injury. If that hadn’t happened, he should have probably been sent on loan to another team because of the number of centre backs already available.
- Barça B: Since the best defenders from Barça B have already arrived to the first team, it seems likely no one else will do so in the near future. In the long term, Grimaldo and Sergi Gómez might be options. In case of injuries or departures, if Barça needs an additional centre back, that would be Sergi (he already played in a Supercup match a couple of seasons ago), Balliu if a right back is needed, and maybe Planas for a left back (Grimaldo is too young).
- Options (Article written before Alex Song’s signing): Alexandre Song seems to be the first option for an extra centre back, if needed, and then it would be at Busquets’ discretion. None of the options have played at a great level in this position before, however, it seems possible that the Cameroon international can be converted (as once was Mascherano). For right and left backs, Jonathan Dos Santos (if he stays) might play on the right, while Pedro seems the only option on the left, in case of extreme necessity.
- Global analysis:
Barça has 8 players ready for 4 spots in defense (the 3 man defense will be less frequent this season, especially without its key man, Abidal), despite that there are 11 players in the first team: Fontàs will be probably sent on loan, while Muniesa and Abidal will be out for most of the season. Six of those 8 men left play at an unquestionable high level for Barça. However, the real game of Piqué and Alves is yet to be seen, if they can recover what they were in past seasons, and Puyol and Adriano’s fitness may remain a doubt as well.
Top Image Credit: David Ramos/Getty Images