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Mar 5, 2009

Not many are impressed by FC Barcelona's draw against Real Mallorca, which took them into the Copa Del Rey final for the first time in eleven years. Many already believe that we should have dropped out from the Copa Del Rey and Champions League so that we don't lose focus from our League challenge. I am baffled by these no-sense views. The fact that Barca are in all the competitions available should be of enormous pride for the fans. Instead the fans are confused of whether we are chasing too much this season. A month ago, every FC Barcelona fan was positive about the chance of achieving a trebble. Then those were the days when FC Barcelona has racked up a 12 point lead at the top. Times have changed and changed pretty fast; Real Madrid has cut Barca's lead by eight points in the last three weeks and to make the matters worse there has been a definite lack of confidence in the players on the field. The performance against Atletico Madrid is a prime example of this low confidence, where once the midfield battle was lost our defense simply gave in to the pressure.

Injuries and tiring legs have been blamed for the recent slump, but there may be more to the slump than those. It is clear that the coach and the players took their focus off the job in hand for sometime. Eto's and Toure's agents comments helped to lose the focus further. To all Eto fans - "I am not trying to put the blame on the recent slump on him, but his acts unwantedly did contribute in the players lacking focue". I have always been a staunch supporter of Eto, when the entire fans in blogosphere apporved at Guardiola's decision to get him packed off in the start of this season, I have voiced against it (even though my voice was not the powerful but my prayers were). There is no doubt in my mind that Eto has been the best striker we had in this decade. But his actions especially at a crucial time did more harm than good to the team.

Toure has pointed out that Barca players may be bit tired because of the way they play the game. To his credit, Guardiola has done his best to rotate the team and give each players enough rest. But the fact that Hleb, Bojan, Caceres and Pique weren't upto the mark did not help him much. There is no need to panick and pack these guys as they are all youn and will take time to learn their trade and settle at Camp Nou. Then comes the second factor - injuries. FC Barcelona were without Iniesta when they met the likes of Valencia, Sevilla, Real Madrid and Villareal back to back in the december. But they came through all those challenges handsomely. But when Iniesta got injured for the second time we seem to have lost the plot. Now with Iniesta back everyone will be expecting that everything will fall in place.

But that may not be the case for now; it may take some more time before Barca start playing in their usual fluency. As I have written in the report to the match against Atletico, we are in this trouble because our midfield is exposing our defense too much. In early day of this season Guardiola once commented that "he is happy when the ball is in opponent's half and worried when it is in ours". The truth is that it's not only him - the fans, the players all are comfortable seeing the first and tensed seeing the latter. FC Barcelona's game plan always have been to control the possession and then make good use of those. But in truth for the last few games we were failing repeatedly to do the same. In that aspect Iniesta's return would help a lot as he and Xavi should be able to dominate possesion in the midfield. With a midfiedld which is not as dominant as it was earlier, Barca's defense is bound to come under great pressure from the begining of the game. Hence there could be a possibility of Barca slowing down a bit in the early stages just to make sure that the defense is not exposed greatly and constantly, where constantly is the key.

Hence in this aspect I believe the 1-1 draw at Mallorca is a positive step. Maybe we were a bit lucky not to have conceded the penalty. But then everyone is, isn't it? You cannot take credit out of the fact that Pinto did well to stop the shot and we did well to preserve our lead. If Buffon and Casillas has done that, would you ever consider that lucky? In a penalty kick situation, you need lots of luck, maybe Yashin never needed it. More over we should judge a performance taking into consideration the facts on the field. Guardiola would not have send in a midfield of Toure, Busquest and Keita to play flambouyan football, but to protect the lead we had from the first leg. And bloody hell, we did that. The problem with FC Barcelona was that they were playing wonderful football througout this season; so any deviation from that will be exaggerated by the media. we are at the perfect time to steady the ship. We have a series of not so tough matches in then league, eventhough there is a crucial Champions League tie coming soon. For that the midfield and the forward lines have to take extra care to make sure that they don't over expose the midfield. But one thing is for sure, the solution for Barca's defensive slump lies upfront, not in the defense.

All About FC Barcelona is a Blog dedicated to the Most prestigous Club in the world, FC Barcelona by an ardent fan. Here I discuss about the Latest happening surrounding our Club and present my Views about the same.

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