Barcelona's 2-1 defeat at the hands of Russian side Rubin Kazan on Tuesday at the Nou Camp stunned many football observers. Was this just a bad day at work or was it one too many under par performances?
For many football pundits this defeat was, to say the least, surprising. Barcelona’s last two La Liga outings have been nothing but lacklustre. First they managed with difficulties to dispose of a stubborn UD Almeria side 1-0 at the Nou Camp, then it a below per performance at the Mestella against a surging Valencia.
The downward curve is evident, from a marginal victory to an unconvincing draw; the smell of a defeat was getting stronger and stronger around Barcelona until Rubin Kazan finally punished them on Tuesday in their own quarters.
It will be interesting to see how Barcelona reacts this to free fall. No doubts that no matter how good is team they loose games sometimes. But what is crucial is how respond to it. To me this is the first real test for Pep Guardiola since taking over at the helm of Barca a little over a year ago.
I am one of those who gave him little credit in Barca's last season’s sensational success. He met a team that was already in place; with a distant play style which he pursued. One many occasions last season Guardiola's was unable to make a difference at difficult game; his substitutions hardly made any difference. He had of course, Messi, Iniesta, Eto´o, Xavi, Henry to name a few, whose top form made the difference.
I reserved my credits for this season to appraise his influence and philosophy on the team. I am not in any way openly suggesting that Guardiola is not a good coach but could assert that Gareth Southgate with the titillating form of the players last season could have achieved the same at Barcelona.
All eyes would be fixed at the Nou Camp this Sunday when Barcelona hosts Zaragoza in La Liga to see how they emerge from the doldrums but I will be more cautious and wait until the first week of November when the play away at Osasuna and at Kazan to assess if glory may just be drying out for Barcelona.
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