Guillem Balague on highs and lows of Barcelona's 2012-13 season
Guillem Balague blogs on the plus points and black marks of Barcelona's first season under Tito Vilanova.
Last Updated: 13/05/13 3:25pm
They have, as Tito Vilanova has said, beaten the best Real Madrid team in history, one that achieved 100 points last season, and will reach 100 points themselves if they win their final three games of the La Liga season.
That is something to be proud of, especially considering that they did not win the league last season and that this is Vilanova's first year in charge.
Tito tried to make the team more direct and some games have looked like they were trading punches with other teams but he felt sides had worked out how to play Barcelona.
His change has succeed as they have got good results and won the league despite players like Lionel Messi, Xavi and Carles Puyol having muscle problems and Vilanova being away for a while undergoing cancer treatment.
The return of Eric Abidal has been a plus and Cristian Tello has claimed a place in or close to the line-up, while Andres Iniesta has been the most consistent player in the team, even though Messi has scored 46 goals in the league.
The bad things include the fact that despite what has happened there are people on the Barcelona board who would like to change the coach, while there is a dependence on Messi and the rest of the team need to give more.
Plus, there have been too many injuries and Messi was played before he was ready against PSG and Bayern Munich. Not enough players have come through the lower ranks and made an impact, and there is too much of a gap between the regular players and the substitutes.
The latter began at the start of the season when they decided not to rotate much in order to win the La Liga as quickly as possible and that meant some players were burnt out towards the end.
It is an end of an era; Pep Guardiola didn't have the strength or energy to make the big changes but it is time to act now as three or four major changes need to be made in the line-up.
Alexis Sanchez, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro and David Villa should have given more while only Jordi Alba out of the new players has made a difference, and Barcelona have failed in the big games against Real Madrid in both the Copa del Rey and the Supercopa and against Bayern in the Champions League.
Joan Laporta is on Revista this week to talk about Barcelona, which we are all very excited about.
Guillem answers your questions...
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MOVING ON FROM MALAGA?
Hi Guillem, What about Isco's future at Malaga? Will he play for Barca next season? Are Barca tracking him? Also, how about Asier Illarramendi? People have been lavishing big praise on him to take over from Xavi at Barca as he is similar player. Thanks, Sriram Purushothaman
GUILLEM SAYS: Isco will not play for Barcelona next season and Manchester City and Chelsea are the favourites for his signature at the moment. However, he has told Malaga that he wants to stay for another season. As for Illarramendi, he could take over from Xavi but Real Sociedad don't want to sell anybody, especially if they qualify for the Champions League.
Hi Guillem, What are Real Madrid's chances of signing Edinson Cavani in the summer? Will he get a look in or are Madrid still keen on Sergio Aguero? I understand there will be a number of players leaving in the summer and if Gonzalo Higuain is one of those players, he will have to be replaced with another striker. Alvaro Morata doesn't strike me as a good enough replacement at his current age so will we bring in another striker to replace him? Stuart Oxlade
GUILLEM SAYS: It is quite clear that Real Madrid want to hijack the deal for Neymar to go to Barcelona but I don't think they will succeed, so they could go for Gareth Bale or Kun Aguero because they definitely need a striker as it looks like Gonzalo Higuain might go to Italy. They have other big names in mind, but their main aim is to get Cristiano Ronaldo to sign a new contact and at the moment they are not close.
Guillem, With Manuel Pellegrini being linked to the Man City job how do you think he'd do at the Etihad? Do you think he'd deliver Champions League and Premier League success? Thanks, Gary Hall
GUILLEM SAYS: I broke the news on Friday that City have an agreement with Pellegrini but, of course, nothing is signed yet because he is under contract to Malaga. It is, though, just a matter of time before Mancini gets the sack and as Pellegrini always maximises the ability of his squad and City have the best squad in the Premier League, I think they will win the title next season.
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