Is flair compulsory to be regarded as one of the best ?

After Real Madrid reached their 4th final in 5 years, Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez criticised Madrid superstar Casemiro, claiming that he could never make it into a  Barcelona team. In response to this, Casemiro cleverly said ” anyone can say whatever they want, but i have been here four years and i am heading into my fourth final” (which they won as we now know).

CasemiroooooA player like Casemiro could be included in any team. His pace, aggression and strength makes him one of the most formidable midfielders on the planet. However, without these attributes his chances of playing for Real Madrid would be slim. He is in no way shape or manner horrendous on the ball  but he is mediocre in comparison to players like Iniesta, Xavi and Busquets in that department. Does that mean that he is untalented and undeserved to be playing for a heavyweight like Real Madrid? Absolutely not. We must remember that he was not born with speed, strength and agility; he would have had to spend long, strenuous hours perfecting these essential aspects for playing football. As a result, he is incredibly effective in the central defensive midfield role- regardless of what Xavi says. Overall, does that make him as ‘talented’ a player as the Barcelona legends who have graduated from La Mesia (Barcelona academy)? Well it depends on what you judge talent by. Effectiveness and success- then yes, he exceeds them due to the short period of time he has been at Madrid. Although in terms of flair, awareness and pleasing to the eye- they are on another level. Although, if i was a manager, i know which one i would want my players to have.

A perfect opportunity for Barcelona to get back to winning ways..

You could also interpret this clash between Xavi and Casemiro as an impulsive retalliation on Xavi’s part towards Real Madrid as a club after years of frustration watching his beloved club slowly disintegrate in the Champions League after he left in 2015, while his bitter rivals win the next three on the trot, setting outrageous records in the process.

Barcelona

Real Madrid and Barcelona are very different clubs with very different ethos. Real Madrid try to give the impression that they are the Galactico’s, the enforcers, the superiors, to try and intimidate teams buy buying the worlds best players and making them perform to the top of their ability together. Barcelona on the other hand, are known for being more conservative with their money, having the knack to buy cheap players and transform them into title winners and using the resources from their academy so everybody is on the same page and has been indoctrinated with respect for the club and its ethos. Although, bizarrely, ever since Barcelona won the Champions League and La Liga in 2014, this has all changed, they have been gradually trying to incorporate some of Real Madrid’s tactics into the club. From 2010-2014, they spent 239.25 million. Then from 2014-2018 they spent 608 million.  Whats more, is that the academy players recruited into the 1st team has dropped from 12 from 2010-2014 to 6 from 2014-2018. The negative correlation here is that the more money they spend and the more they dismiss their faith in the academy, the worse they do in the Champions League. Yes they have won 3 out of the last 4 La Liga’s but with a club with the stature of Barcelona, if they are underperforming in the Champions League, the biggest stage in club football, then they are underperforming all round.

After Zidane’s departure and the uncertainty over Bale’s future, if Enernesto Valverde’s side manage to reform themselves and find their old ways, 2018-2019 could be the perfect time to lift their 6th champions league. Of course, only if they injure Mo Salah.