Jonathan Wilson wrote this brilliant piece a week ago about the role of defensive forwards in modern football. One of the key points in it is how Barca have continued the classical tenets of total football, by combining excellent short passing and movement, with squeezing the pitch and having all their forwards and midfielders press the opposition.

This is also meant to explain why offensively mediocre players such as Dirk Kuyt and Park have managed to become established players at Liverpool and Man U. Having said that, I think what Barcelona showed this year was that if you press as a team, you don’t need to have defensively minded players with high work rates on the wing. Messi and Henry especially aren’t defensively talented players and neither are Xavi and Iniesta. Obviously not everyone should try and emulate Barca, because other teams simply don’t have the quality of players they do.

The question is, will the new Galacticos manage to get their players to combine as a defensive unit or will they show us a different paradigm of offensive brilliance? They are looking at a front four of Villa, Ronaldo, Kaka and Higuain/Robben/Van Nistelrooy. They already have the deep lying playmaker in Gago, but if the front players are disinterested in tracking back, they will be exposed in midfield. Or maybe they will come up with a form of kamikaze football in which they will just attack and bet on their forwards creating and finishing more chances than the other team. Either way they should be interesting in a footballing sense.

Having said that, I’m underwhelmed by the collection. Even though Ronaldo and Kaka are the last two world players of the year, they don’t excite me in the same way as Figo and Zidane did. Maybe this is unfair though – this World Cup could be when Kaka establishes his all-time greatness.

A word on AC Milan. Super Pippo, do you know that your beloved team has already sold their ready made placement for Kaka. Milan signed Yoann Gorcuff from Bordeaux a couple of seasons ago. He didn’t really get a look in the first team and was loaned back to Bordeaux. That’s understandable – after all they wanted him to gain valuable first team experience. BUT, for some reason they gave Bordeaux an option to sign him for €15 million at the end of this season.

Of course Gourcuff dominated this season, as Bordeaux won their first league title in ages, and he also got himself into the France team, scoring a great goal against Romania. Of course Bordeaux have picked up his option and he has signed a 4 year contract. This seems like a backward move, but he’s only 22, will be playing for Laurent Blanc and will be playing champions league football next season. I suspect Bordeaux will sell him on for a big profit in a couple of years time.

World T20 looking interesting. Shahzaib Hasan is promising and unlike pretty much all the other players we have seems like he can hit the ball big. Of course the big story will be Razzaq’s return. What I love is that all the commentators talked repeatedly about how he hasn’t played international cricket for the last 2 years without mentioning the ICL (or at least I didn’t hear them – correct me if I’m wrong). Unfortunately the guy looks old – his bowling is only about 75 miles an hour and although he gave the team an emotional boost, I don’t think it will last.

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