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Guillem Balague says Chelsea's Juan Mata is starting to get the praise he deserves in Spain

Guillem Balague says Chelsea's Juan Mata is starting to get the praise he deserves in Spain

After lengthy discussions in the office and some questions from some of you, I asked my colleague and stats man Chris Collinson (@chriscollinson7) to research whether Barcelona have changed their style under Tito Vilanova in comparison to Pep Guardiola's team.

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Comments (14)

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Luke Watkins (Arsenal fan) says...

Hi Guillem, there are rumours linking Arsenal with a January swoop for Atletico's Adrian Lopez. There are also rumours that they made a move last summer and that Adrian was Arsene Wengers preferred purchase over Olivier Giroud. Have you heard anything about this? With Arsenal struggling to score goals so far this season could Adrian be the answer?

Posted 07:55 4th November 2012

Rod Massie (Aberdeen fan) says...

Hi Guillem, As a Barca fan it is obvious that a top quality centre back is required to be added to the squad, do you think that will be a priorty next summer and if so do you know of any names being linked. Another question regarding Fernando Llorente, I would love to see him at Barca next season as it would add another dimension to their attacking play, but what club to you think he will join as I think he will have numerous offers. Keep up the great work with the column and Revista!

Posted 16:52 1st November 2012

Anthony Mannion (Arsenal fan) says...


Posted 18:11 30th October 2012

Ian Westhall (Liverpool fan) says...

Hi Guillem, great insight into La Liga each week, it's always a great read. My question is, this season at Barcelona, due to Xavi's less regular usage in the first team, if Cesc was to pick up an injury or a drop in form, do you think there would be an opportunity for maybe Sergi Roberto or Gerard Deulofeu to step up from the B team?

Posted 16:30 30th October 2012

Paul Schofield (Chelsea fan) says...

So a long ball is now a HOOF with no particular target?!? You talk like you're a manager! Have you passed any coaching badges?!?

Posted 13:33 30th October 2012

Galen Scroggins (Barcelona fan) says...

Hi Guillem! I enjoy your insight week in week out. As a football fan in the States, I have a question that might pose as an interesting topic for fans everywhere. American professional sports is seemingly burdened with illicit substance abuse, with Lance Armstrong being the most recent case. With Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo scoring tons of goals year in and year out, I ask what qualities there are to admire about the top athletes of the beautiful game in Europe that maybe American fans cans learn from in regard to dedication and sportsmanship. Though football is no stranger to doping, there is something so intricate about the game that it seems to be a point to be mentioned. Cheers!

Posted 05:43 30th October 2012

Naveed Siddiqui (Barcelona fan) says...

Being a die hard fan and watching all the games every season since 2001 I agree with you about the noticeable change in style. However I think it is a very positive and bold move on Villanova's part. Although the previous to last season for Guardiola was the best so far in terms of the quality of football overall but we saw that was worked out by many teams last season. Even when teams do not work it out, merely "parking the bus" usually proved sufficient to counter them in a lot of games. So I think this new style has proven to be plan B so far for the teams who defend deep. The game against Celtic was the clear evidence of that. Your thoughts?

Posted 22:33 29th October 2012

Ijlal Ali (Barcelona fan) says...

Hey Guilleme, I read the analysis you had on there being more long balls being played this season compared to last, the and I was wondering if that was because of the injuries to the first choice back four, and hence, the lack of confidence in the makeshift options. Perhaps they just don't trust them enough to play it out from the back. Could that also partly explain them keeping the ball in the opposition half more simply because it keeps it as far away from their own area as much as possible. Thanks!

Posted 20:25 29th October 2012

Glenn Stephens (Arsenal fan) says...

Perhaps Barcelona's conversion of 2 midfielders, Mascherano & Song ,into Centre Backs gives you some insight as to how the next few years will go. It's not some mega coaching insight on those players but a need to have better passers at the back and that they can get away with it because they have so much possession. It might be why they are 'launching' marginally more balls from the back but it also makes sense to get the ball into the area more quickly so that the defending side has less time to bring their midfield and strikers into defensive positions. Their problem against the very top sides for the last few seasons (Inter, Chelsea, Real Madrid) has been breaking down those very well organised defensive walls and maybe Vilanova is thinking more along Arsenal lines and using more pace with the passing game in the transition phase, with Pedro, Jordi Alba & the Chilean chap .Looking forward ,it is also likely that their possession will reduce a little, with Xavi probably starting to decline . Cesc is not going to be the new Xavi nor any of the other kids coming through. You yourself say that Messi is a one off, but so is Xavi & to an extent Iniesta. These players are not 'manufactured' & replicable easily ,no matter how good the academy is. So their game will become more direct , but at the margin. Certainly Cesc knows how to play that way.

Posted 19:54 29th October 2012

Rahul Malhotra (Liverpool fan) says...

Hello Guillem, an absolute privilege to read your articles!! My question to you is that, going through your articles, you seem to be disappointed with the way Tito Vilanova is going about taking charge at Barcelona in terms of their philosophy,style, technique etc.. Last week your colleagues stats summed it up. Their is a slight change but not much. Barcelona's style has become more direct with more long balls. As an unbiased football fan I think this is absolutely fantastic. It means Barcelona are great with possession based football and also can play long balls when the situation demands. This makes them more potent and deadly and I think Vilanova needs to be given a pat on his back for bridging the gap. Your thoughts?? Thanks in advance, always a pleasure reading your stuff!!

Posted 19:46 29th October 2012

Somim Ali (Newcastle United fan) says...

I love this column its pretty much the only one I read !! keep up the good work. My question is why do you think Athletic Bilbao have had such a terrible start considering the talent on offer, also is Llorrente in the last year of his contract if so would he be leaving for free ?

Posted 19:09 29th October 2012

Stewart Mccoy (Manchester United fan) says...

Alright Guillem? Thanks for your insights and views, always an interesting and worthwhile read. Just want to comment about the Ballon D'Or section at the end of your blog. Why is the list always so biased towards attacking players? I mean I fully realize that football as a business is about entertainment and that ST/AM/WG etc. for most fans provide the greater enjoyment and excitement within the game. However, I feel like standing up for the "Alan Hansen" view of football on this one. Are the defensive players in the game discriminated against in this way? I'm not suggesting its a top level marketing agenda ( or even intentional just that it seems that way to me? Take Man City last year (winning the PL), was Vincent Kompany not just as important to them as Sergio Aguero? But hes not on the list despite being their captain, stand out performer defensively and arguably being 1/3 best CB in world football? And I am a Man Utd fan! Also looking at the previous winners of the award over the last two decades, only 3 defenders make the top 3 for the award, Fabio Cannavaro, Roberto Carlos and Paolo Maldini. Where is John Terry from the Jose Mourinho era Chelsea (he was unbelievable at that time) or Alessandro Nesta from most of his career (best CB of his generation)? Within the current world scene however I do understand to a point that attackers are dominating this award. The stats and performances that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have produced for 3/4 seasons (at club level anyway) have been undeniably world class and beyond everyone else (arguably for all time) in the game! However in a sport where scoring goals is more important than not conceding them (my opinion but I think its true), I still think the tendency within the game right now is to favour attackers and that the "football men" running things and the media analyzing them are not viewing things through the eyes of a "purist" in this sense!

Posted 18:06 29th October 2012

Colin Khuthe (Manchester United fan) says...

I feel that the focus on messi over shadows the talent of other athletes.. Such as santi carzola or even falcao there should be a wider focus to grow football and not on two stars and two teams (barcelona and real madrid). I feel david DeGea's start to manchester was fairly poor considering the hype around his talent, he has shown glimpses of his shot stopping abilities but more consistency is needed, Fergies decision to rotate keepers has its pro's as it limits complacency from both keepers. Juan Mata will grow and soon to begin to challenge palyers such as the potent silva for a starting spot. We appreciate the wise information and insight of Guillem Balague allows us to look at a lot more reasons other than our narrow minded thoughts

Posted 17:17 29th October 2012

Yousaf Sabir (Chelsea fan) says...

Hi Guillem. Excellent column every week. (And fantastic suits at the weekends!) I have two quick questions. 1) Fernando Llorente looks certain to leave Athletic Bilbao in 2013. Do you think his next stop will be to the Premier League? 2) I am a big fan of Valencia. in particular Jonas & Ever Banega. Do you see either of them leaving La liga in the near future? I think Banega is a gifted footballer who has had a cruel run of injuries. Thoughts? Thanks. Keep up the good work!

Posted 14:46 29th October 2012

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