How Barca evolved with­out Pep

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

AS BARCELONA pre­pare to wel­come back Pep Guardi­ola to the Nou Camp for to­day’s Cham­pi­ons League game against Manch­ester City, Reuters Sport looks at how the club has evolved since the vi­sion­ary coach de­parted in 2012.

STEADILY IN­CREAS­ING TRO­PHY COUNT Guardi­ola un­seated his old men­tor Jo­han Cruyff as Barca’s most dec­o­rated coach by win­ning 14 of 19 ma­jor com­pe­ti­tions en­tered be­tween 2008 and 2012, in­clud­ing two Cham­pi­ons Leagues, three La Liga ti­tles and two King’s Cups.

Three dif­fer­ent coaches have taken charge since he left in 2012, the late Tito Vi­lanova, Ger­ardo Martino and Luis En­rique, adding a com­bined 10 tro­phies.

In lit­tle over two years Luis En­rique has won eight com­pe­ti­tions, in­clud­ing the 2015 Cham­pi­ons League and two league ti­tles, and could eclipse Guardi­ola’s sil­ver­ware haul if he chooses to ex­tend his con­tract be­yond June 2017.


Just five core play­ers from the squad Guardi­ola bade farewell to re­main at the club – An­dres Ini­esta, Ser­gio Bus­quets, Javier Mascher­ano, Ger­ard Pique and tal­is­man Lionel Messi.

Sergi Roberto and Rafinha, who were both in the youth sys­tem then but were handed their de­buts by Guardi­ola, are now first­team reg­u­lars, with the Brazil­ian scor­ing twice in Satur­day’s 4-0 win over De­portivo La Coruna.

IN­CREASED REV­ENUES AND A GLOBAL EX­PAN­SION STRAT­EGY G uardi­ola’s sus­tained suc­cess fur­ther el­e­vated Barcelona’s global pro­file and laid the foun­da­tions for a fi­nan­cial boom, with rev­enues grow­ing from € 334mil­lion be­fore he ar­rived in 2008 to € 495mil­lion when he left.

The club’s surge in rev­enues has only ac­cel­er­ated in the en­su­ing four years, post­ing a record € 679mil­lion for last sea­son, the big­gest in Spain.

Barca have fi­nalised plans to re­de­velop their Nou Camp sta­dium, in­creas­ing the ca­pac­ity from 98,000 to 105,000 by 2021. They have also cranked up their global strat­egy by open­ing of­fices in Hong Kong and New York, also an­nounc­ing plans to set up a women’s foot­ball fran­chise in the US.

EVOLVED PLAY­ING STYLE Guardi­ola be­came the most cov­eted coach in world foot­ball af­ter build­ing a Barca side that mo­nop­o­lised pos­ses­sion and served up scin­til­lat­ing foot­ball, cul­mi­nat­ing in out­stand­ing wins over Manch­ester United in the 2009 and 2011 Cham­pi­ons League fi­nals.

While Barca con­tinue to dom­i­nate the ball and press high un­der Luis En­rique, the fo­cus has shifted from con­trol in mid­field to sharp at­tacks en­gi­neered by their dev­as­tat­ing front line of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ney­mar (left).

“Barcelona now have play­ers ca­pa­ble of play­ing two styles,” says former cap­tain Xavi Her­nan­dez.

“They can play with pos­ses­sion but if they push back they can counter-at­tack to per­fec­tion. They don’t need to elab­o­rate the play too much as the three for­wards are ca­pa­ble of cre­at­ing at­tacks on their own.”


Al­though Barca spent an es­ti­mated € 350mil­lion on sign­ings while Guardi­ola (car­i­ca­ture) was in charge, the coach had a rep­u­ta­tion for blood­ing young­sters, giv­ing 22 academy play­ers their de­buts, in­clud­ing fu­ture main­stays Ger­ard Pique, Ser­gio Bus­quets and Pe­dro.

The club’s much-lauded em­pha­sis on home-grown tal­ent has steadily de­clined since Guardi­ola left, how­ever.

Al­though Sergi Roberto and Rafinha have be­come reg­u­lars un­der Luis En­rique, he sent for­ward Mu­nir El Had­dadi and promis­ing mid­fielder Sergi Sam­per out on loan this sum­mer while spend­ing an es­ti­mated € 122mil­lion on new play­ers. – Reuters

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