Barcelona went out to take on Levante and returned home with disappointment. The round of 16 Copa Del Rey fixture was of less relevance for the Catalan giants though but for the players on the opposite side it was all to play for.
Tournaments like Copa Del Rey are really an opportunity for the minnows in La Liga to shine and strengthen their case to have a claim on the trophy. And Levante did what was needed and secured the big win against the heavyweights of Europe.
Barcelona fielded an inferior XI from the start; giving the much needed rest to the most important players of the squad like Messi, Suarez, Rakitic, Arthur, Pique, Alba and the likes. Since the majority of first team starters were given rest, players from Barca B were called to fill up the squad.
Now let’s take a look at the most noticable observations that can be made after analysing the game.
- VIDAL IS GIVING HIS ALL TO BARCA
Arturo Vidal who exchanged some bitter emotions with the coach Ernesto Valverde for not receiving his deserved play time is now proving the coach in every game why he should be selected as a starter. Vidal is working hard on the pitch, all over it for the time he is on the pitch. Yesterday’s match was the latest addition to his matches where he put in his blood and sweat. He played the Busquets role and was so esential in the midfield yesterday that had he not been there result might haave been worse. Most of the other players in Barca lost possession easily and frequently so. Vidal was the one who made important recoveries and at times cleared the ball away from the danger territories. Leadership was emanating from his body language and he was a player who seemed to be having a purpose. His performance against Levante was another great display added to his series of consistent performances over the last few matches.
2. TOO MANY YOUNGSTERS, ALL AT ONCE ARE LESS DESIRABLE
Valverde was criticized by fans for not handing proper opportunities to the youth to thrive in the first team. In the past matches only Alenya (among youngsters) has been given minutes in La Liga, and that too in the end generally. Valverde’s risk appetite is clearly very low; he chooses to play it safe and sometimes too safe is not very good for the team. Youth from La Masia hardly ever get a chance to play Liga matches with othe experienced first team superstars. Hence their exposure to the big stage has become minimal. Hence Valverde this time thought about playing a number of Barca B players like Alenya, Chumi, Miranda and also Malcom all at once from the start. Thus problems arose especially in the defence and as a result Barca let in two goals in the first half. The youngsters now gradually needs to be introduced in the first team so that such an event does not recur.
3. COUTINHO’S POSITION STILL A MYSTERY
Coutinho was used as a midfielder in his first season for Barca and thereafter he has played only on the wing. Coutinho does not have the speed to run up and down the wing like Dembele. So using him as a winger is futile. His work rate is low and his awareness lately, has been poor. He scored many goals and provided many assists in his first season but this season he’s remained largely quiet. His position is the main issue Valverde needs to fix.
Barca did not play like Barca in this match and came home with a poor result. Although they have an opportunity to right their wrongs in the second leg where they can field their gala XI and spin the tie in their favour.