When it was announced during the summer that Tito Vilonova, Pep Guardiola’s long standing assistant was going to be the new manager, there was an element of surprise but a feeling it was the right choice. In the first eight Barcelona have won them all, not in typical Barca fashion, they have had to grind out results such as a 3-2 success at Sevilla, as well as a 2-0 home win over Granada. Despite this, they’ve played some neat stuff, as you’d expect from Barcelona, Lionel Messi is still performing at the top level however Barca’s style hasn’t been as centred around him as it was last season. Tito has done a good job incorporating David Villa back into the team, the Spanish international was out for much of last season with a broken leg, but he’s returned this season and he’s chipped in with some goals, including a vital winner at Sevilla. Barca again look like an outside bet for the Champions League, a spirited 3-2 win over Spartak, which took a Messi header to win it, was met with a comfortable and very controlling win over Benfica at the Estadio da luz. It clearly looks like they’ve taken care of the group fairly easily, unless they slip up against Celtic, which seems very unlikely. Cesc Fabregas hasn’t been playing as bad as some of the Catalan press has suggested, he’s contributed to the attacking threat Barca have posed and after being criticised for not scoring enough, he met it with two goals in two games against Sevilla and Benfica. One criticism of Vilonova is his failure to bring in a centre back, Puyol has and now will miss much of the season due to injury problems, while Pique hasn’t had much luck either. Tito’s been stuck playing two defensive midfielders at centre back, with Mascherano looking like he’s lacking the pace and tackling ability to be a top quality centre half. Alex Song was brought in as potential defensive cover as well as a holding midfielder role and he’s filled the roles well settling in at Barca. The lack of investment into a quality centreback could be costly for Barca when it comes to the Clasico. But signs are looking good for a la liga title with David Villa returning in good form, Messi again in good form, all I can say is, the future is bright in Catalonia.

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