analysis | 2016-12-26
Barcelona's 2016 Review - The best, worst and more!
We say our goodbyes to 2016 with a proper review of the club in the last 12 months
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Best Starting Eleven
Marc-André ter Stegen - Sergi Roberto, Mascherano, Piqué, Jordi Alba - Busquets, Iniesta, André Gomes - Neymar, Messi, Suárez
Since the successful treble season, Barça had an established eleven for the biggest matches of the year, however 2016 brought the first necessary changes. Ter Stegen established himself as the starting goalkeeper as Bravo left to England, Sergi Roberto became the starting right back and André Gomes has started to displace Rakitic on the midfield. More changes are set to come in 2017 as Umtiti and the rising Denis Suárez could force their way into Lucho's best.
Lionel Messi, because as long as he wants, the little Argentinian will be Barcelona's best player of the year.
Most non-culés didn't take notice, but 2016 was one of Leo's greatest in blaugrana, he stepped up on the final winning run to deliver the league and made the impossible mundane with a clinical passing performance in the Spanish Cup final. He dragged the team through a frustrating dip in form, and sometimes it's hard not to think he has spoilt the football world so much that a dominating year wasn't enough just because of a missed penalty for Argentina.
Luis Enrique was the only one we had, so I guess we only have a choice. Although frustratingly stubborn at times, the Asturian delivered a double after a treble, then followed with a Super Cup and has amassed eight trophies in two and a half seasons, and if that wasn't enough, he finally seems to be getting the team back on track with some key changes in December.
Jordi Alba was at the end of his worst months for Barcelona, a man down while facing a Sevilla side that had just been crowned Europa League champions, then appeared Messi with a cinematographic pass and suddenly the ex-Valencia player finished it nicely to clinch a title most had given up after Mascherano was sent off. That goal made it all worth it as the fans exploded with joy.
The Spanish Cup final vs Sevilla was an uphill battle from the start, Mascherano was sent off in the first half for a silly mistake and Suárez went down injured while Sevilla had a convincing first half. Ter Stegen has just made an important save as things progressed to a nervy second half, that turned into one of culés’ favorite displays in recent times, not a masterclass in football, but a resilient selfless performance by the players fighting for the cup at all costs. Neymar turned into a pseudo-left back, Messi on the middle of the pitch starting attacks, Piqué holding everything together at the back and Iniesta with yet another incredible performance showing why he's the very definition of a clutch player. A final to remember.
The massive slump after months in an unbeaten run with incredible performances, crashing down in the Champions League vs Atlético Madrid and losing El Clásico followed by a string of draws and defeats that almost cost Barça the league, the month of April was one to forget.
Messi, it's always him. He dragged Barça out of tough situations dozens of times, over 70 goals between his assists and goals, plus performances that kept the league chances alive in the unlikeliest of pitches, from the Pizjúan to the Mestalla and his remarkable performances in Europe, Messi assured that Barça went in 2017 with the possibilities of winning every possible title.
Bad luck. It's strange to blame something so abstract, but there's no other way to put it. Barça had each of the Madrid clubs pinned down twice at the Camp Nou this season, only to crumble before unfortunate moments and lapses in concentration. From that second half in the Champions League that Barça could’ve scored five vs Simeone’s men, to conceding that Sergio Ramos header in a match Real Madrid failed to create a single clear cut chance at the Camp Nou. It’s part of football, but looking back it's hard to not lament those missed chances.
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