The modern day Barcelona have clung to the maxim that however many goals they concede, they have the firepower to score at least one more. Much as with the Catalan call for independence from spain, they feel that it’s what defines t In fairness, it’s a philosophy that has served them well. Enough silverware to exhaust a few cans of Brasso, a worldwide reputation for excellence and more than a few superstar players bear witness to that. In this creed, defenders have merely been the first of the forward players. Aside from the elegant Piquet and the lionhearted Puyol, the penchant for attacking full backs such as Alves and Alba, and midfielders such as Mascherano – regularly - and Busquets – occasionally - converted to quasi-defenders, has held sway.
The recent maulings by Bayern Munich however, may have put a little dent in the Catalan confidence, and the need to at least offer a salutary nod to the necessity of defence may have been recognised, and the press has linked them with the pursuit of a couple of, inevitably, star players, Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels, and Chelsea’s David Luiz.
Despite making the error that led to Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal in the home leg, Hummels was a star performer as the German club resisted a persistent and incessant Madrid pressing in the return game. The 24 year old is an outstanding defender and already has a German international cap for every year of his life. Borussia doubtless would not like to see him go, but with typical Teutonic logic, a large bid may persuade them to let him leave.
If you wanted to draw a photo-fit picture of a Barcelona defender, it would probably neatly fit with the tousle-haired Brazilian. Full of skill and confidence, prone to an occasional error, but with pace to burn and a neat suite of goals and free kicks, Luiz is without doubt an entertainer. Once described as being like a “Playstation footballer” by Sky pundit Gary Neville, he has now matured into one of the outstanding defenders in the Premier League. He also excels playing as a holding midfield player; a role that gives expression to his range of passing skills. Talk is that Abramovich has earmarked Luiz as the new team captain, so Chelsea will be reluctant to let him leave, but so much will depend on how the new manager views his kind of defending.
It may be valid to say that given Barcelona’s state of mind after the shock to their own mortality inflicted by Bayern, it’s more significant to look at that position of the players they are looking at rather than the individuals themselves. It may be that the Catalan club fail to capture either Hummels or Luiz, but if the club are now likely to pay due regard to rebuilding from the back, it may be a loss of innocence that changes the outlook of the club.