I'm a Real Madrid fan and believe me I hate to say it, but Barcelona is the best team in the world right now, and, arguably the best side of all time.
Call it Dutch total football, call it Spanish tiki-taka or even Brazilian jogo bonito if you want! Everybody in Europe dreams to play like Barcelona! Every team wants to enjoy most of the possession, intricate and precises passing and wonderful goal scoring ability!
Arsenal has been trying for years. Brandon Rodgers wants to implement a similar system with Liverpool. Even Roman Abramovitch got tired of the all the criticism surrounding Chelsea's champions league win last season and started on a new project: winning is not enough, Chelsea will need to "win a la Barcelona" thus creative players such as Oscar, Hazard and Marin have been brought in to help Juan Mata run the offense.
However, playing like Barcelona is surely not about buying the best players in the world: the Galacticos of 2003, although a very impressive side individually, never played at the level Barcelona has been playing in the past 4 years. In fact, playing like Barcelona requires players with not only specific skill sets but also with a huge football IQ. Indeed, if Barcelona enjoys such success, it is because of their system and their philosophy.
Pedro is an example of the perfect "Barcelona player." You see Pedro is not as gifted as the likes of David Villa or Alexis Sanchez but he is what I like to call a "system player." He knows the Barcelona-way better than everyone on the team: having played under Pep with Barcelona B and having been one of the most important player in Pep Guardiola's Barcelona. Moreover it's not really about his skills as an individual but mostly about his ability to make the right run, the right pass, the right cross … well to sum up all this, his ability to make the right decision.
That being said, Pedro is not an average player. In 2010 and 2011, Pedro was excellent and was Barcelona's second offensive option. Furthermore, whatever people may think, he was much better than David Villa in the 2010-2011 Champions League run! That's probably why he started the World Cup final over the likes of Fernando Torres, Jesus Navas and David Silva.
Sergi Busquets is another example of the perfect "Barcelona player." He has a perfect understanding of Barcelona's game and is tactically the most (or at least one of the most) intelligent player in the world right now. His ability to slide down as a center back when the team needs an extra man in defense and to link the defense and the midfield are amazing and truly underrated.
This last word actually brings me to another point: "underrated" is actually the word that characterizes some "average-looking" Barcelona player. I've seen and heard people say that Pedro, Alba, Piquer and Sergi Busquets are average players. Even the great(est) Leo has been accused of being good only with Barcelona.
People fail to understand that playing at Barcelona is playing for a team, a system and a philosophy and if you can't adapt, you will fail!
During the off season, Barcelona added two players that will most likely fit the system well. Alexander Song will back up Sergi Busquets and will probably help out as a center back. Jordi Alba will fill in for Eric Abidal in the left back position and will most likely perform well since he already knows the system (from his la Masia days).
Tito has the right cards. Arguably, he has a better team than his legendary predecessor. But most importantly, he seems to be more rational and a little more conservative in his choices. Guardiola was a wonderful coach but he often made questionable decisions, even Fabregas confessed that he didn't understand Pep's system and that he had trouble understanding what his position on the pitch was.
Barcelona's victory over Sociedad a few weeks ago showed a different approach. Fabregas was not used as false-nine/ false-ten but as a central midfielder. The result was incredible. Barcelona looked more fluid on offense, Messi was good as usual and Pedro seemed to be enjoying his excellent form from the 2010-2011 season(s).
Barcelona is set and ready for a good season! They've looked sharper than last season this year. I sure hope Jose Mourinho has been watching them closely and is getting ready!
Forever a Real Madrid fan.