One of Barcelona’s most glaring weaknesses in the first leg of the Supercopa de Espana had nothing to do with the departure of Neymar, as they were overrun in midfield, the area of the pitch which they once dominated like few others teams in history have.
Since Xavi left the club, the Blaugrana have become a team defined by their forward line and now they’ve even lost one of the key members of that MSN front three, further exposing the midfield issues.
While several midfielders have been purchased – including Paulinho , who may not be a solution either as he is not as much of a ball-player – since the former captain left for Qatar, nobody has yet been able to dominate the centre of the park in the same way that Xavi did, while Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets are not in the form they once were.
Those weaknesses have been exploited by Los Blancos, led by Zinedine Zidane, who knows the importance of winning that battle.
The curious thing is that Barcelona still boasted the most possession last Sunday night, as the home side had 61.6 percent of it, but it was a false and deceptive possession, as the visitors were the ones in control.
Helping Los Blancos is the fact that they have such a variety of midfield options and that they’re now fielding pure midfielders, rather than squeezing playmakers into the centre of the park as they used to do.
This Wednesday evening, Real’s control of that area of the pitch should only increase, as Luka Modric returns from suspension – although it remains to be seen if Zidane will rotate.
Barcelona, meanwhile, may decide to add an extra body to midfield, sacrificing Gerard Deulofeu from the front line.