At Barcelona, drastic changes and dramatic signings aren’t usually part of the method. Planning, long term planning, all interwoven with their footballing philosophy seems to be the guiding light, but sometimes, events change the course of action. Losing 4-0 and 3-0 to Bayern Munich might have implications this summer, which one of them might be Tito Vilanova losing his faith in Gerard Pique, resulting in a massive overhaul to the defensive line.
Rumors from Catalonia suggested that a black cat has squirmed his way between the centre back, who until a season or two was considered to be one of the top at his position among European players, and the manager, stepping in to the head coach position for the first time this season, beginning with a remarkable 55 points from the first 57 in the league, before his cancer treatments forced him to step away from the field for a long while, and Barcelona undoubtedly suffered for it.
There has to be more than one reason why Bayern Munich have beaten Barcelona so profoundly, becoming the force to be reckoned with in Europe. Lionel Messi being the basis for everything might have hurt certain changes Barcelona could have made in order to continue their evolution as the top club in the world, but the finger usually gets pointed at the defense. Carles Puyol is usually out, and he’ll never be the same again, so Pique takes most of the heat.
The “blame-Pique” thing began last season, when Pep Guardiola eventually benched the player for a certain period after a few disappointing performances. He did well in the Euro next to Sergio Ramos, but it seems that both the 3-4-3 system Barcelona use in certain situations or simply playing next to a never ending line of players, most of them not natural to the position, has cost him his own credibility.
After the second loss to Bayern, Pique called for immediate changes. Vilanova later joked that Pique doesn’t realize that he might be one of those changes, which led to the speculation that the 26 year old might lose his place in the lineup and the team next season if things keep going this way. Pique said he doesn’t understand what the fuss is about – he’s played under Vilanova since the age of 15, and there’s no one in the world he respects more.
How does this end? Barcelona will make changes, to the defense as well, during the summer. The question is, will Pique be someone to build around and give him the right kind of partner at the center of defense, or will he be one of those deemed surplus to requirements, and start looking for a new club to play for.