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Sep 3, 2012


  • Cesc Fabregas looks like a mis-fit in Barca midfield.

It was all supposed to be really smooth. He was the one with the Barca DNA, so getting into this midfield was not at all a big task for Cesc Fabregas. The only factor to weigh in was how Iniesta and Xavi would be rotated to accomodate Cesc in. And he didn't start badly at all. Scored a number of goals and suddenly gave Barca a new dimension, which no one though existed. But when the crunch time came towards the end of the season, he simply stood as a misfit. Nobody knows what happened. From then on, in Barca's midfield he always looked like someone who is forced in the wrong place in a football field. the more he play, the more it gets worse. To make matters worse for him, the ones who cried for his signing has turned kind of against him and is demanding a subsqeuent change in attitude and performance. For the record, I have never been a huge fan of his signing. I did write about it earlier in two post, you can read it here Stop Fabregas Obsession and Do we really need Cesc Fabregas?. Everyone expected Cesc to take almost a year to integrate into the side. What puzzles everyone is the fact with each minute playing in that midfield he looks totally confused. So why this is happening. Let's look into the reasons affecting Cesc at Barca.


To undestand what's going wrong with Cesc Fabregas, one need to understand how a midfield works, especially a Barca midfield. Even school kids know that at Barca the midfield is the real force behind all the success. This midfield when combined with someone like Messi(who drops back to be a part of midfield) is the most dangerous in the history of football. That's why when our midfield takes over, we look so good in attack and whe they don't we look very vulnerable in defense. To understand more we need to understand the traditional midfield positions. In a normal midfield you have the Defensive Midfielder, Deep Lying Central Midfielder, Central midfielder, Central Attacking Midfielder and the Attacking midfielder(I am pusposefully ommitting the wingers here as that's not the way we work). Now what all we have in our midfield? In Xavi we have a traditional Central Midfielder, Busquets and Song is in the defensive midfielder mould, whereas Iniesta is the traditional Central Attacking midfiedler. You may ask why so much fuss about these? The area in a footballing field occupied by these positions may differ by a couple of yards, but the way they play differs completely. Fabregas is a simple attacking midfielder who loves to play further up in the midfield. You could see in the match against Valencia. Fabregas started in Iniesta's role but was usually positioned further up the field. If you take the average position stats of Messi and Fabregas for the night, you could easily see that Fabregas remained further up than Messi for most of the time.


With Fabregas trying to play Iniesta's or Xavi's role, and subsequently drifting upwards we are ideally a one man short in midfield at times. And against teams which presses well in midfield the team looks vulnerable. So why can't Cesc play Iniesta's or Xavi's role? I don't think it's ever going to happen. Simply by nature, cesc is a more attacking focussed player than Xavi and Iniesta. That explains why he was the best chance creator in all over Europe when he was at Arsenal. But he is not a player in the mould of Iniesta or Xavi. Hence to expect him to replace or occupy these two brilliant midfielders could be asking too much. In order to utilize Cesc to his fullest, we may have to tweak our formation a bit. He should ideally fit into a 4-3-1-2 formation or a 3-4-4 diamond in the middle formation. But both these systems will have it's counter trade-offs. Putting Cesc in our midfield neautralizes his effect as his defensive and ball retaining skill is no way near to Iniesta or Xavi. Unless we tweak our system to bring Cesc in, we will continue to see him producing not so great performances.

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