Barcelona upturned a transfer ban and boy oh boy did they make full use of it! The Catalan Giants have managed to capture the signature of the best striker of last season, Luis Suarez in a massive 75 million pound deal. Suarez with all his controversies, is a total forward package capable of playing everywhere in the forward areas and a definite world class addition to the squad. How will Barcelona pan up next season with arguably the best forward trio in the world, beating Real Madrid’s Bale-Ronaldo and Benzema trio considering the technical and performance superiority of Suarez over Benzema?
Messi likely to play his Argentina position
Arguably the world’s best forward, Lionel Messi was always rumoured to be upset if not played through the centre as the main striker. As we all know, Messi is not an out and out striker by any means as he has too much technique and vision along with pure striker’s and poacher’s instinct. Messi has a lot of ability and has shown it in the world cup as he plays as a supporter for Higuain or Aguero, acting as an advanced playmaker instead of a false nine. In a system like Barcelona, three strikers who are technically brilliant can form a free form partnership where each one manages to hold to an average central position. It will be more effective if diminutive Lionel Messi drops deeper and allows Suarez the centre forward’s position. This will mean Messi takes up the role of an inside forward, definitely relegating Pedro to the bench and Iniesta to his favoured midfield role. Neymar, who likes to play in a system which focuses on him, like all three in the trio, will mostly get an opportunity to play a similar inside forward’s role to support Suarez. Even Suarez is capable of playing exactly the same role, which means the interchanging is bound to cause a lot of worry for opposition defence, especially because marking becomes null and void with the world class player movements occurring in front of them.
Rakitic transfer makes sense now
Ivan Rakitic is most likely to start games ahead of Xavi as Barcelona will mostly look to add speed to their game. After Spain’s debacle at the world cup, it was there for everyone to see how slow Xavi’s and Iniesta’s combination has become. Once upon a time, the most feared duo, are now looking easily conquerable. Rakitic, on the other hand, despite his team’s group stage exit, was a strong and influential midfield player. With his able movement and somewhat box to box work rate, Barcelona under new manager Luis Garcia mean business. Iniesta is likely to be drafted in Xavi’s position and Rakitic is likely to be his partner. Rakitic’s addition makes even more sense after Suarez’s transfer. Suarez is used to be a regular receiver of long balls from Steven Gerrard in Liverpool. Rakitic is very similar to Gerrard as a counter attacking playmaker with accurate long passing being his main attribute. Now we cannot say that pass master Xavi isn’t world class in long passing, but he surely focuses more on a shorter and slower game than the direct style of Rakitic. Suarez is most likely to hold possession with his impeccable first touch while Neymar, a sure improvement over Sturridge will already be on the go for a through pass.
More direct than before, a new era for Barcelona
We cannot think of Barca playing absolutely functional football because they have too much talent than that. But we can surely envisage a change in focus of the team. The 2010 world cup strategy of tiki taka dominated about 3 years and was then destroyed by a physical and simple brand of football. Now with Suarez and Rakitic, and obviously another central defender, the focus would be on goals and the balance of the team rather than the typical midfield domination that allows their opponents to sit back and save energy for counter attacks. In fact, superior physical teams close them down and hunt in packs effectively negating Xavi’s influence altogether, which was the reason for their downfall. But with a strong headed manager like Luis Garcia, Barca would look for balance and a tough of directness, and a complete football team.