Published: Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sports Review

Tito’s Barca Pep’s

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Following last week’s Italian dismembering of Barcelona’s mighty eleven and considering the usual standards of such a club, many aspects of the Catalans’ game was undoubtedly called to question; and once again the usual question was brought up: Would Pep’s Barcelona have done a better job?
To truly compare the two teams and fully satisfy the requirements of such a debate, it would need more than just half a season’s work; but as every football fan will know, not being able to argue, challenge, shout and compare after every minute of the beautiful game is one tough job. So we will make best with what we have.
So far, Tito’s Barcelona has managed to scrape up, chin up and shape up from last season to pull off an incredible start in La Liga. Granted, that some teams will often have a hot start, this start has been the hottest in the league for a while now, with an initial 14 wins, 1 draw, and zero losses. With a stain from (surprisingly) Celtic and of course the draw from the recent El Clasico, AC Milan’s victory over the red and blue could be considered the worst defeat of their current season so far.
Statistically, Pep’s Barcelona did not show as much enthusiasm in the game as this vibrant squad does. However, Guardiola took the reins of a broken down team, kicked out two of its best performers, and brought in players, among which, more than half have been responsible for Barcelona’s recent success. In that regard, Tito has had an extremely easy task, playing the others around in good turns, and letting Messi do what he does best.
However, one aspect of the game that Tito amplifies much vehemently than Pep ever did, is his constant penchant to find any time he can for his youth squad to stretch its legs, or even take the risk of leading a few games. While Pep used to experiment with tactical movements and various formations, Tito’s approach, while not too different, posses a much bigger threat than Pep did.
While Pep was out there beating every team and winning every championship, Tito Villanova had been the assistant coach of Barcelona B team, coaching the youngsters. In training the youth players, just like Guardiola had done when Rijkaard was manager, Tito nurtured a strong sense of confidence and belief in the youngsters. However, unlike Pep, Tito had taken steps further to mould that raw talent to help his A team. While Pep’s usual changes would mean a 3-4-3 formation instead of the more stable 4-3-3, Tito’s changes means a new youth player starting with the usual stars.
While this has not yet proven to be a bad thing, there has definitely been many an advantage to playing new La Masia graduates. Players such as Tello, Thiago, Montoya have been frequently seen to start or come off. Even though they are still shaky at times(with Thiago being the exception), there have been clear indications that playing these youth players have boosted their confidence to the level where they can come off as a sub and cover for any injured players and not make a mess of it. Montoya had been solid and sturdy and apart from a few misses, Tello looks to have shrugged off his terrible performance against Real last season and adapted to a better and much selfless style of play.