Has Barca developed a losing habit?

By October 25, 2020

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

 

1.Barca losing- the new normal?

 Real Madrid were emphatic 3-1 winners in the first El Clasico of the season and last of the decade.  A combination of factors accounted for Barcelona’s humiliating loss: dependence on single players, coach Ronald Koeman’s team selection coated in off field issues seeping onto the field.

  It is no secret that Barca has depended on Messi to lift the team. When Messi is having a good season, Barca does well. He is the club's top goal scorer, top assist provider and, among his 34 trophies with the Catalan club, he boasts four Champions Leagues, 10 La Liga and six Copa del Rey wins. The statistics speak for themselves.

Messi has now gone six consecutive games in El Clasico without scoring and it is a cause of concern. In the last 20 minutes of Saturday’s match, the 33-year-old disappeared. This disappearance can be attributed to his age as well as the mismanagement of the player. Messi should have played less minutes in the Champions league match earlier in the week and been allowed to play the full match against Real Madrid. Despite his previous superhuman performances, the Argentine is human, and it is natural for him to feel tired too.

The team has been transitioning with the new coach and integration of younger players. The club is aware Messi has a few years left in him and is now shifting the dependence, attention, and pressure on the youngster Ansu Fati. The 17-year-old became the youngest scorer in El Clasico history after scoring the equalizing goal against Real Madrid on Saturday.

 

  It is now up to Barca, if they mould Fati properly and do not become too dependent on him which can do more damage than good.  The Spanish player has notched four goals in the league and one in the Champions League, making him the club's top scorer so far. He took up the number 9 position in the Clasico and was his side's most dangerous asset against Real Madrid.

     After Saturday’s loss fingers are being pointed at Coach Ronald Koeman. Did he get his substitutions wrong? Was Barca too attacking? Is Antoine Griezmann being underutilized?  The reaction when Real Madrid scored the second goal was too slow. There were no tactical changes and the first substitution-  a triple substitution- came in the 81st minute.

Fati made way for Griezmann, Pedri for Francisco Trincao and Sergio Busquets for Ousmane Dembele. Five minutes later, Jordi Alba, who was clearly tired after returning from an injury which had kept him out for three weeks, was replaced by Martin Braithwaite.

 

  Barca is now 12th place in the points table but have played two games fewer than most of the other teams. To add insult to injury, the team confirmed on Sunday that the Brazilian Philippe Coutinho is set to miss Wednesday’s Juventus clash in the Champions League due to a hamstring injury he suffered on Saturday. It is unclear how long he will be out. He has played  five La Liga matches and one Champions League scoring one goal in each competition. 

 

What is clear is Barcelona’s play has not improved from last season, a campaign which ended without a trophy.

 

  1. Shai Hope’s comeback starts with self-responsibility!

 

          Barbadian Shai Hope’s exclusion from the Windies Test squad set to tour New Zealand from November 27th has attracted criticism. However, there comes a time where one must accept that one cannot keep doing the same things and expect different results.  As CWI Chief selector Roger Harper said, sometimes by continuing to select a player you do more harm to them than good. It was time for the 26-year-old to step away and come back stronger. 

Without a doubt, Hope has been one of the outstanding batsmen in One Day Internationals, but in Test cricket, he has struggled. Since December 2017, his Test average is 19.48 and since February 2019, 14.45.

In the recent series defeat to England he averaged below 18. 

I cannot help but note that Shai Hope’s problem is not in the technical aspect of the game.  This is evident in his ODI performances as in his 78 matches he has an average of 52.20 with a high score if 170. Among these ODI performances he has nine hundreds and 17 fifties.

His bounce back in Test cricket has to begin with him taking responsibility for what has been affecting his Test form. When a batsman is in the middle, he must be able to think for himself. Despite everything taught by a coach, application is up to the player. It is now left up to the Barbadian to go back to the basics of his game and execute them to the best of his ability.

The West Indies selectors’ decision to omit Shai Hope from the tour to New Zealand is not detrimental to the player. He must now take full responsibility for the revival of his own game.

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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