Pep Guardiola won a host of trophies at Barcelona with a renowned possession-based style.
Cesc Fabregas returned to Barcelona in a £35m transfer in the summer of 2011, coinciding with Pep Guardiola’s final season in charge of the Catalan giants.
Fabregas endured a pretty tough debut campaign, often finding himself overshadowed by the phenomenal midfield trio of Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta. Yet, the former Arsenal man wasn’t to finish the season trophy less, helping himself to the World Club title with victory over Santos and the Copa Del Rey.
That was to be the end of Pep Guardiola as Barcelona manager, as assistant boss Tito Vilanova stepped up to become the head coach of the 2012/13 season. The style differed slightly, despite maintaining the possession, the intensity and eagerness to pressure became less frequent.
As a result, the better teams such as Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and AC Milan for 90 minutes found the Catalans rather predictable and easy to play against, taking advantage of such apparent weaknesses in the air from set-pieces.
Following the unfortunate resignation of Vilanova through illness, Gerardo Martino has since taken the reigns, with big-money signing Neymar giving Barcelona a much-needed outlet to the often over-used Lionel Messi.
The style has once again differed, Barcelona becoming more direct and at times allowing the opposition to have the ball, demonstrated perfectly as bottom side Rayo Vallecano almost matched them for possession stats as Barca were happy to counter-attack – almost unthinkable from the Pep Guardiola reign.
According to Portuguese source Record, Cesc Fabregas has acknowledged that the Pep era is now over, explaining that those years are now not worth thinking about as both styles and players have changed, adding :
"People have little patience. They want this Barcelona team to be the same as under Guardiola when it is practically impossible, as then we had physical players such as Abidal, Eto'o and Touré. Moreover, we have a new manager who needs time to adapt,"
Whilst Barcelona are still a force to be reckoned with and will naturally be amongst the favourites for the Champions League, perhaps it can be difficult for players such as Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez who missed out on those glorious Barcelona years and now have to answer to demanding fans who were lucky enough to witness them.
image: © ins11thiago