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10.03.2010 14:10

The three alternatives to Ibrahimovic

David Puig

Assuming the Spanish FA turn down the Club’s appeal against Ibrahimovic’s suspension then the Swedish striker will miss the game against Valencia. So far this season Guardiola has used Bojan, Messi and Henry to lead the attack in place of Ibra and t

Ibrahimovic has missed seven matches this season: four in the league, two in the Cup and one in the Champions League. These seven matches have ended in five wins and two draws for Barça with Henry, Messi and Bojan taking turns to fill in for the big Swede.

Bojan a natural striker

2009-11-10_PARTIDO_21.JPGBojan has been given the nod to replace Ibra in four matches. In the league, Bojan took the centre forward’s role away to Tenerife and at home to Racing Santander, accompanied by Henry and Messi on the wings.

In Tenerife, Bojan alternated his position in the centre of the Barça attack with the left wing. Barça thrashed Tenerife 0-5 with Messi scoring a hat trick. Against Racing Santander, Bojan also started at centre forward but regularly swapped positions with Messi and Henry on the wings. Barça won 4-0 and just as in Tenerife Bojan failed to score but made a huge contribution to Barça’s victories, especially in Tenerife where he gave the final pass for all three of Messi’s goals.

In the Cup, however, Bojan scored against Cultural Leonesa. Ibra did not play in either of the two legs and Bojan scored two of Barça’s five goals in the return leg in the Camp Nou.

Messi the alternative in Mestalla and San Mamés

2009-10-17_PARTIDO_WEB_09.JPGGuardiola could also choose to use the league’s top scorer, Leo Messi, to lead the line. He has often positioned Messi in the hole behind Ibra and this season Messi has replaced the Swede twice. Messi started in the number 9 position away to Valencia and to Athletic Club Bilbao with Iniesta and Pedro on the wings. Both matches ended in draws: 0-0 in Mestalla and 1-1 in San Mamés, the goal coming from Dani Alves.

The experience of Henry

2009-11-24_FCB_-_INTER_DE_MILAN_018.jpgThe third option is Thierry Henry. The experienced French international replaced Ibrahimovic in the decisive match against Inter in the Camp Nou in what was perhaps one of the most fascinating spectacles of the season. Ibrahimovic missed the match due to injury though he did get a place on the subs bench. Henry did not score but he made a valuable contribution.

Any of these three options will be perfectly valid against Valencia on Sunday though whatever the starting line-up the players are sure to interchange their positions frequently. The theoretical centre forward could change places with either of the wingers at any moment and vice versa. The movement in the Barça attack is constant and the performances of other players have made a valuable contribution to counterbalancing the absence of the Swedish striker.
The three alternatives to Ibrahimovic
Goal scorers without Ibrahimovic
In the seven matches that Barça has played without Ibrahimovic, the team has scored 19 goals as follows:

Messi - 4
Pedro - 4
Bojan - 2
Alves - 2
Henry - 1
Piqué - 1
Márquez - 1
Iniesta - 1
Puyol - 1
Thiago - 1
Luna (o.g.) - 1

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