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Charlie Webster - Why Barcelona are just so brilliant

Published: 08 Apr 2011 - 09:51:55

I read in an article after this week's Champions League games that Barcelona's defensive frailties are apparent. Maybe I was watching a different game; the Spanish outfit beat Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1 right? Plus the two strikers, Lionel Messi and David Villa weren't even on the scoresheet.

It doesn't seem to matter too much because with Barcelona pretty much any other member of the side can score, as we saw on Wednesday night. Iniesta, Keita, Xavi, Pique and Alves all found the back of the net meaning the mini-goalless runs of Messi and Villa are really no bother at all.

To be fair Carles Puyol is evidently missed in the side but I'd hardly say that the defender's absence is causing them too many problems. If half of the teams in the Premier League were showing 'defensive frailties' like Barcelona's that were mentioned in the article I read, they'd be jumping for joy.

The bottom line is that I can't see any team outclassing them in the Champions League. Do you? Technically flawless, creative, a pleasure to watch with the ball, confident, the wonderful descriptive list could go on and on.

Whenever I watch them whether it be against Shaktar Donetsk, Arsenal, Villarreal or even Real Madrid, they always get possession back. It's the supposed seven second rule of closing down play. Put simply they just don't let the other team play.

If the players don't get the ball back within seven seconds of losing it they then retreat back to their positions. Sounds amazing and obviously works, they are relentless and determined when winning the ball back.

I was a bit curious how Pep Guardiola installs this in the players. I'd be interested to compare the player's fitness levels to other teams too. If the Barca boss insists that they pressurise and run until they get the ball back, their levels of fitness must be outstanding. Does he drum seven second drills into them? Times them with a seven second stop watch? Makes them count in training? I'm not joking, I'd love to know what some of Guardiola's training techniques are.

Or are the players just that good at creating space early on and working as a team to find options for every move and every pass? There we go, the all important 'working as a team' phrase. I've mentioned this before in previous blogs referring to youth systems. I say this because 10 of the current first team players have come up through the youth ranks, learning and observing all things Barcelona.

There we have it, the answer to how Barcelona work so well as a team. They gel perfectly and I'm sure coming from the same culture and speaking the same language helps. Something maybe other teams in Europe should take note of, especially in the Premier League.

It's a while back now but when I used to work in La Liga and spent time with Real Madrid, this was one thing that was missing. Real had all the stars, incredible talent but they did not gel at all. The dressing room was split by country and that's why in that year, 20005/06, they didn't win a thing and even got trounced 3-0 at the Bernabeu by Barcelona.

Work-rate I think is also a key factor to Barcelona's success and one of the many reasons why I can only see them winning the Champions League this season. Lionel Messi might have 45 goals from 44 matches and 22 assists but next time you see a Barcelona game just for 10 minutes, only watch Messi and you'll be blown away purely by his work-rate.

Maybe that is why the 'lazy type' players don't make it for long in the ranks, Zlatan Ibrahimovic springs to mind. If you think about it the Argentine rarely dives, he never gets a mardi on, wouldn't be seen sulking or stomping off the pitch and always wants the ball.

Recently Real Zaragoza's coach, Javier Aguirre, said that the Catalan giants are 'unstoppable'. And I'd have to agree. He also said that the reason why Barca will remain so dominant is because Messi is only 23 and it looks likely he'll be at the Nou Camp for the next few years and will just keep getting better and better.

Now for the opposition that is a scary thought.DSG

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Charlie Webster is one of the brightest young female sports presenters around. Charlie currently reports for BBC’s Football Focus and is an established presenter for Sky Sports. Prior to this she presented live Premiership football for ESPN in Asia, and was the face of Real Madrid TV, interviewing the likes of Zidane, Beckham and Casillas. Charlie’s love for sport has taken her all across the world. She ran her first marathon in Singapore in 2006, and since then has competed in five more, raising thousands of pounds for good causes including the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research and Women’s Aid UK. A fanatical Sheffield United fan, Charlie’s blog will present an insight into football that is rarely explored; from a woman’s perspective! She will be giving her expert opinion on the Premier League, covering all topics on and off the pitch. Follow Charlie on Twitter @CharlieCW.

You can visit Charlie's website at:

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