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Posted by Francesc Tomas on 08/13/2012

If we compare English and Spanish football, there is no question: The Premiership is more direct, physical and pacey than La Liga.


This factor was key in the development of Cesc Fabregas, who had quickly adapt his game to be able to compete within his new environment while also applying all the basic concepts learnt at our La Masia youth academy. The mixture of Blaugrana flair and British toughness worked wonders, with young Cesc becoming a leader at Arsenal, breaking many precocity records in the process.

Cesc Fabregas enjoyed a fair degree of freedom within Arsene Wenger's formation at Arsenal, especially after Patrick Viera's departure to Juventus in 2005. Many doubted young Fabregas would be able to fill in the huge gap left by the legendary Frenchman but Cesc stepped up with a remarkable 50 appearances. His partnership with a more defensive-minded Gilberto Silva allowed the Catalan prospect to move freely across the midfield, allowing him enough space to construct plays which would eventually create opportunities for direct through passes.

After many years of negotiations, Pep Guardiola famously managed to re-sign Fabregas for €29+5 million in the summer of 2011. His highly anticipated return to Barcelona was received positively by the Camp Nou fans but many wondered where he would fit in our formation, especially considering we had won the Champions League the previous season with a clear 3-men midfield with Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.

Instead of simply playing Busquets as a more defensive-minded midfielder and choose two out of the Xavi-Iniesta-Cesc trio depending on their match fitness, Guardiola opted for a 3-4-3 formation.

Personally, I wasn't convinced with the experiment at the time and, judging by last season's failure to retain La Liga or Champions League, we can safely say Pep's decision backfired and ended up confusing and unsettling our squad. Players never really knew which formation would be used in the next match, as it depended on our rival’s defensive attitude rather than our own strengths. Why change our system when the previous one took us to European glory? Not a good move at all.

Cesc Fabregas explained: "I never really got to grips with the system under Pep Guardiola. I had been playing another style of football and to take on board so much so quickly was difficult. Some people commented that I lacked something last season, including Guardiola. It was my fault really because I tried to be what I am not; I'm not Xavi, Iniesta, or Thiago. I need to get back to my best."

Cesc scored 15 goals and gave 20 assists in 49 appearances for Barcelona last season. While that was a decent return considering it was his first professional year at the Camp Nou, I am sure Fabregas would be capable of improving even further if he focused on quick passing, creating spaces and making himself available when in goalscoring positions - which are the qualities which make him special, the reasons why Pep Guardiola insisted on signing him in the first place.

Tito Vilanova must ensure he allows Cesc enough freedom to develop his anarchic game within his Barcelona formation but, at the same time, it is up to The Fab4 himself to prove that the years of negotiations and heavy price-tag paid to Arsenal last summer were a good long-term investment.


Have your say 

What did you think of this article?

Do you feel Cesc Fabregas has what it takes to improve on last season's performance?

Was Pep Guardiola right to choose a 3-4-3 formation?

Did I miss out on any important points you would like to share with us?

I welcome and appreciate all respectful feedback.

Força Barça!!

Posted by: Francesc Tomàs.
Founder and columnist at

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Posted by onibon lizarazu 7 on 08/13/2012

let us be gratefull to lionel messi all the time because if there is no him we can score or to play well

Posted by Anonymous on 08/13/2012

He did what he could the rest will have to follow... After all he is a playmaker, a maistro, he had to convert to a blistering striker with pace... He did well in his 1st season condidering that he is the second goalscorer behind Messi.

True he can't play as he did at Arsenal coz he was a dictator there, while we have our own dectators in the partnership of Xavi and Iniesta. So he is still finding his role in the squad.

Posted by Nawanit on 08/13/2012

He will surely be in top form this term! Visca el Barca

Posted by Benjamin on 08/13/2012

I'm not sure how you can complain about a player with 15 goals and 20 assists in a campaign. Only in barca....

Posted by anonymous on 08/13/2012

He had a great season. He shouldn't complain

Posted by Kos on 08/14/2012

Well, 15 goals and 20 assists are by no means what you can ask from a player Barca got on a bargain! Bash me all you want, but when players of very little proven qualities like Andy caroll, Hazard, Hulk can demand 35 million price tag, Barca should consider themselves lucky to have landed Fab for so cheap.
And to answer your question, Fab should actually step down in terms of footballing returns to justify his price tag!

Posted by danville on 08/14/2012

For the reasons mentioned in the article, Barca (Pep) shouldn't have purchased Fabrigas. Where Barca fell short last year was upfront: they needed another reliable striker (Villa, even before he was injured, was also a mistake).

Ibra will always remain Pep's biggest failure as a coach. He was exactly what Barca needed: someone tall, tough, who can find the net with both head and foot, to take the pressure off Messi. When you get someone of Ibra's talent (one of the top 5 strikers of his era), you do what it takes to get him to fit in. Another huge Pep error was playing Messi every minute of every game. Just because Messi wants to play doesn't mean he should be allowed to play. He was obviously fatigued by the time Barca met Chelsea, by far the toughest defeat ever for Barca under Pep, whose praises have been someone oversung in my view.

Posted by arus on 08/14/2012

Well in my opinion I think fabregas had a wonderful first half of the season linking up well in the attack with messi and scoring goals but its like there was a switch turned off in fabregas and I firmly agree that he can step-up his performance and I also see him as the heir to xavi's throne so I think he is a very wonderful long term replacrment and I also love his versatility

Posted by Emmanuel on 08/14/2012

For a coach to have won 13 trophies in 3 years, i doubt if his praises have been oversung, i even doubt if his praises has been well sung as it should be.He has made records that Mourihno hasn't made and yet never gave himself a self acclaimed title like the 'the special one'. I think history has a role for him and only time will tell.

Posted by Duty rock on 08/14/2012

Wit d canibal of midfieldas dat barca hav,i dnt tink fab4 wil improve cos there wunt b much time 4 him.pep made a big mistake by usin 3,4,3 cos d players wre used 2 4,3,3.nd d fact dat our defendas dnt hav pace made it evn more difficult 2 play wit 3 defendas

Posted by andrew Kiken on 08/14/2012

Danville has some good points especially in the loss to chelsea being a disappointment. Messi lost the ball to lampard of course, because he got injured just before. He missed the breakaway in the 2nd game rather than go far post to increase the odds of accuracy. Than the penalty kick miss by messi really hurt. Messi did let the pressure get to him, although Messi is not a great penalty kick taker. However, without Messi Barcelona is just a very good team. With Messi, they are one of the best of all time.

. Ibra is one of my favorite players, but it seems his personality was not a fit for barcelona and pep. But, to see Bojan play as a sub over Ibra is silly when you think about it.

Danville's bad point is about Pep. Peo did not just win he changed a culture for the next 20 years. As long as a new coach does not screw it up and implement his own system. More than player selection or formation, pep is the reason barcelona is one of the best of all time.

Posted by Katlego (fabregas) bethuel mphahlele on 08/14/2012

We cnt expect everything from fab4,cos every player got his style of cnt expect xavier "xavi" to score goals to be better player,francesc will always be the best like it or not.long-live the spirit of francesc long-live!

Posted by Robert on 08/15/2012

I disagree with danville's take on Fabregas. Barca still doesn't know if Thiago is good enough to replace the near irreplaceable Xavi which is why the Fabregas purchase was necessary. It's not easy to fit into the nearly set in stone Barca system: but if Fabregas doesn't improve over last year's performance, it might be a good idea to trade him while he's still relatively young.

I definitely agree with danville's criticism of Pep refusing to rest Messi, and failure to integrate Ibra into the Barca attack. With a rested Messi, Barca would have easily taken out Chelsea.

Posted by Rayan Haddi on 08/17/2012

Sorry ,!!! I think fab he's the key to complete a tiki taka team, olso I can't wach a barca with out any one of them sp messi inesta xavi and alves.

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Francesc Tomas Hola! I am Francesc Tomas. Barcelona is my passion and home-town team. I consider myself lucky to have regularly attended matches at the Camp Nou since the early 1980s. My cousin played for the Barça youth academy, sharing the team with Don Andres Iniesta, which gave me a clear inside view of how our club works behind the scenes. I am also the founder, editor and columnist at

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