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10.07.2008 17:20

A rejuvenated defence

Marc Guillén

Pep Guardiola’s defence has gained in polyvalence, moving the ball forward and what’s more, is younger thanks to the incorporations of Cáceres, Piqué and Alves.

After veterans Thuram, 36, and Zambrotta, 31, have moved on and young Cáceres, Piqué and Alves have arrived, Barça have a much younger defence, and the newcomers are promising faces for the future. Alves is still only 25, while Piqué and Cáceres are both just 21.

Younger defence by two and a half years

With its new players, FC Barcelona’s defence now has an average age of 27 years 4 months. The team at the start of last season had an average age among its defenders of 29 years 10 months.

The oldest current players are Sylvinho, age 34, Puyol, 30 and Márquez, 29, while the three new signings are the younger members of the bunch.

Getting the ball out

QM3D3874.jpgGuardiola knows how much rivals like to try to spoil FC Barcelona’s method of playing the ball around, and pressure midfielders to force defenders into long passes. What Barça needs to counter that is defenders that are able to bring the ball forward themselves and build up plays from the back.

So, Guardiola has signed three skilful defenders that read the game well, thus guaranteeing that Barça can move the ball forward from defence. There are no doubts about Alves’ technical qualities, while Cáceres and Piqué are two centre backs that have outstanding passing skills.
A rejuvenated defence
More than two players per position
Barça have more than two players for each position in defence: Abidal and Sylvinho on the left; Puyol, Cáceres, Márquez, Milito, Piqué and Oleguer in the middle; and Alves on the right. It may seem like Barça are lacking cover on the right and have an excess of centre backs, but these are versatile players, and at least four of the natural centre backs have often slotted in perfectly at right back, namely Piqué, Oleguer, Cáceres and Puyol. Márquez and Piqué have also frequently used as defensive midfielders.

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