The next couple of weeks have Barcelona travelling to Getafe (this weekend), playing Spartak Moscow in the Champions League and at home against Granada. There have been tougher schedules, so the Andres Iniesta could have come at worse times, but the man who’ll fill his place, Cesc Fabregas, is the one some are worried about.
Not the greatest of starts for the Spanish international, the returned son who feels a bit frustrated about having to play behind or alongside the three best players in the world, as he’s put it, and many would agree.
But here comes the chance, and here comes the rationalization behind his presence with the team. Even if such a player like Fabregas doesnt’ get to fit in the Barca first XI, Xavi needs his rest a bit more than he did two seasons ago, while Andres Iniesta is always an injury risk, missing 11 league matches last season and generally a player who’ll be out for about 7-10 matches a season. Geniuses sometimes come with fragile legs.
So what does this mean for Barcelona? Fabregas isn’t Iniesta, despite his passing and dribbling skills. He’s a more forward player, who attacks through the middle, and is a bit more aggressive with his gameplay. The problem for him right now is his confidence, and an away match at Getafe isn’t always the easiest of fixtures, as Real Madrid learnt not too long ago.
Still, small adjustments and Fabregas will be presented with a fine opportunity to kick start his season into where everyone think he should be. By losing Iniesta, there’s a 100% chance Xavi will get the start and be responsible for the ball movement and play-making. Sergio Busquets won’t make the ventures forward, while Fabregas and Lionel Messi will probably make more switches between them.
Messi is a better passer than Fabregas, and handles the ball better. What Barcelona don’t lose with Fabregas playing in the more forward role, the ‘false 9’, is his off the ball movement and straightforwardness towards the goal. Messi will probably drop back more than usual in the next three matches, creating space for Fabregas, helping Xavi with the passing and distribution, and looking for an opportunity for a killer ball.
The only thing that’s left is for Cesc to grab hold of the opportunity given to him. He’s yet to score this season, yet to have an assist. If there’s an opportunity for Fabregas to let go of the frustrations and take the momentum of his effective 11 minutes against Georgia, setting up Soldado’s goal that won Spain the match, it’s here and now, presented to him by Iniesta’s injury.