Garbage time for Barcelona doesn’t mean they’re planning on dropping points. Cesc Fabregas was back in the role of Lionel Messi while the real deal wasn’t even in the squad, while the ones who truly enjoyed a run in the lineup were Cristian Tello who finished with two goals and plenty of others, who’ll see quite a lot of La Liga action till the end of the season.
At this point, with a 13 points lead and 7 matches to go, the Champions League is the important thing. Xavi got to play and so did Dani Alves, but the rest of the key players for Barcelona got to rest. It’s interesting that Xavi was the one who still got 81 minutes of football, and signifies his importance to the shape and form of Barcelona, even if he is a step slower and finds it harder and harder to be dominant like he was a year or two ago.
Cesc Fabregas isn’t the one to take over for him. He’s not the kind of player, at the moment at least, who can sit as the play-maker and hardly make one mistake for an entire match. Fabregas’ instincts are to push forward with every chance, and his off the ball movement is what makes him so dangerous when he’s put in the right position. Thiago is another player Barcelona are/were hoping can become the next Xavi. One thing to remember about Xavi – he wasn’t even in the lineup when the team won the Champions League in 2006, and some would be wise to call him a late bloomer. Don’t give up on potential too soon.
Cristian Tello seems to be the best of the endless stream of talented winger the youth team at Barcelona produces. Last season he showed dribbling skills without a finishing touch. This season he seems to be a bit more efficient with the ball, but it seems it’s going to take someone like Alexis Sanchez or Pedro to be injured or leave if he’s going to get a serious chance in the lineup when it’s an important match Barcelona have to play.
Garbage time all around Europe is kind of different this season. It began a little bit sooner, but it doesn’t mean Barcelona are planning on losing, or helping a team like Real Zaragoza, in the middle of a relegation battle, win any free points. Second-stringers at Barcelona are better than most of the La Liga anyway, with a sort of hunger in their bellies that sometimes starters don’t have anymore at this stage of the season, with nothing left to prove anymore.