What Qualities Does the Barcelona Player Possess?
Surprisingly, the Barcelona player is smallish and slim, perhaps you could even say skinny and short.
If you look at the Barcelona players that act as the engines of the team, those who score the goals, to the defenders even, from the play makers to the finishers to the ball winners, they are all fairly short and certainly not built like tanks. From Pedro to Villa to Iniesta to Xavi and then of course Messi, The Atomic Flea, these are players who don't stand over 5 feet 7 inches tall.
Dani Alves, the most attack minded defender in the game of soccer, stands 5 feet 8 inches, and he's perhaps the tallest of the bunch. Yes, there's Pique and Busquets, both over 6 feet, but they are the exceptions for Barcelona.
Versus Manchester United, Iniesta was too much for the lanky Michael Carrick, who had to resort to hacking down Iniesta if he had any hope of stopping him.
The Barcelona player is quick of feet, which makes up for both those seemingly negative traits of being short and skinny. What's more, these are players who have incredible touch and control on the ball, two additional qualities that overcome nearly all else.
Quick run down of the Barcelona player's qualities:
- speed of thought - they know what they want to do with the ball
- incredible touch - perfect control and touch on the ball, whether the ball is in the air or on the ground
- skinny - yes, they might appear weak but they are wiry and strong
- short - gives them a low center of gravity, so they are even more difficult to knock off the ball
- shielding ability - they will fight to maintain control of the ball or spin away from pressure
- selflessness - they play for the team and fight for the team both on offense and defense
- fitness - all players are extremely fit so they can attack and defend as a team
In a sense, they are all the anti-Cristiano Ronaldo's. Whereas Ronaldo is tall and strong, the Barcelona players look like they may have even missed too many meals at La Masia. And they are even pale, where Cristiano Ronaldo is skin looks a bit orange, like the's spent too much time at a tanning salon in Madrid. Certainly Barcleona's Iniesta could use a day at the beach he's so pale. He could give Conan a run for his money in the pale category. But that's silliness and beside the point.
What it gets down to is skill on the ball, quickness with the ball, and overall speed of thought. If you watch Messi play, he seems to be one, two or three steps ahead of everyone else. Defenders are left wondering if he'll dribble, pass, shoot, or just spin away from pressure and repeat the discussion all over again.
To play like this you need incredible skill, possess the ability to dribble at pace with the ball close to you, and then recognize when to dribble and when to pass. All the Barcelona players have this knowledge. It's very rare to see them ever lose the ball due to a bad touch or bad decision. More often than not, their pass or dribble is cut out at the last minute by a diving defender.
The one quality they all posses is the ability to shield the ball. A skill that
perhaps doesn't get as much attention as it deserves. Each and every Barcelona player isn't afraid to receive the ball under pressure and protect the ball from the defender. And, at times, it's almost like the invite the pressure, so they can more easily spin away from pressure as the defender over commits. Even though the Barcelona players are small in size, they play without fear and are strong on the ball - fighting off defenders as the shield the ball.
The Barcelona player is also a team player. They are selfless. They don't care who scores the goal. They just want to win and play good soccer. Their thinking is if they play smart, simple, tiki taka soccer, they will win the game. For them it's a big game of possession, piggy in the middle, as long as the pig doesn't get the ball, whether that's Manchester United or Real Madrid, they're happy. This goes for the offensive end, where they constantly share the ball amongst themselves, but also on the defensive end, where you'll see Messi and David Villa chase the ball down just as much as Pique and Puyol. The way Barcelona press when they lose the ball is nearly as incredible as the way they keep the ball on offense.
In a way, the Barcelona player should act as inspiration to all those players out there who were told they were too small, not strong enough or just not good enough. The Barcelona player proves that skill conquers size and soccer knowledge trumps brute force. Real Madrid tried to muscle Barcelona, which made the game close, but in the end Messi broke through and embarrassed them. The beauty of soccer is if you spend time with the ball, and master it, you can go far.