I’m sure Cesc Fabregas is a better player with Lionel Messi on the pitch, but for yet another week, he manages to do things, mostly score a goal, while the biggest star on the Barcelona squad takes another day off heading into more important matches, while the Spanish La Liga is not proving to be too much of a challenge, even on one of the most unimpressive displays from the soon-to-be-champions this season.
Playing without Messi and Xavi, it was bound to be less than easy unless an early goal came, and it didn’t. Levante played as ultra-defensive as can get, and while it didn’t stop Barcelona players from getting chances in the box, with Andres Iniesta and Cristian Tello proving to be quite difficult to keep up with for the visitors, Villa and Fabregas did a terrible job of finishing plays, not to mention Villa’s terrible penalty miss after 17 minutes, which completely took his head out of the match, although he stayed the entire 90 minutes.
It was eventually Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez who came up with the winning play, as Sanchez, in a season he’d like to forget but giving in a few more impressive displayed in recent weeks, making the most of his reduced role for the team, broke through from the right wing to set up Cesc with the winning goal, that gave Barcelona some sort of spark in the final minutes that should have ended with more balls in the net of Keylor Navas.
Barcelona are at a loss when it comes to their defensive personnel and who to play against the truly frightening Bayern Munich, who aren’t really taking it easy in the Bundesliga, thrashing everyone and everything in sight. Eric Abidal played a full match, which doesn’t mean he’ll be tested against Bayern in any of the legs, but it is heart warming to see a player that has been through so much still find his way and perform well at the highest of levels.
Adriano played as a centre back once again, but most feel that playing youngster Marc Bartra would be much more suitable for the position, even if he lacks experience. Adriano has never dealt well with speedy, strong players while playing in the middle of the defense, and Gerard Pique needs someone a bit more comfortable with the role playing next to him, maybe even to hide his own problematic confidence situation.
Barcelona will feature a very different lineup when they head into the Allianz Arena later this week, although some, like Fabregas and David Villa might remain, in a bit of a different position from what they played against Levante. Despite the win, more focusing on their ability, they could do with a slight change in their function, which wasn’t too pleasing against a team that tried hard to defend, but didn’t do it too well.