Why Barcelona talent may not be overrated for Juventus

Barcelona-P.5-02-06-2015-CopyDistinguished journalist, Geoff Colvin, in his bestseller of the same title posits that Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else is hardwork and the innate talent in the elite to excel in their field.

According to Colvin, “What really makes the difference is a highly specific kind of effort, “deliberate practice,” that few of us pursue when we’re practicing golf or piano or stock picking.”

Colvin shares the ‘secrets’ of extraordinary performance and how to apply these principles. He also examines the stories of people, who achieved greatness through deliberate practice, including Benjamin Franklin, comedian Chris Rock, football star Jerry Rice, and top CEOs Jeffrey Immelt and Steven Ballmer to buttress his point.

Based on the Colvin principle, Barcelona of Spain, with all their talented players, may not necessarily have any edge over Juventus in their UEFA Champions League final on June 6 at Berlin’s Olympiastadion. This is because the Italians have a well-oiled structure that can take care of any talent no matter how good. Juventus’ defeat of defending champions, Real Madrid, even with all the world renowned stars in their rank, points to the fact that talent alone may not get you the desired result.

But there are some pundits, who don’t believe in the Colvin theory as it applies to June 6. To these analysts, some of who are retired footballers, Barcelona’s talent is not over rated. Their attack, comprising Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi, have proven that they can penetrate any defence no matter how highly structured

Writing in the May 14 edition of the International Business Times, Jason Le Miere, points to the recent UEFA Champions League history, where Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid have ruffled more illustrious feathers, to argue that Juventus’ structure may not be overawed by the brimming talent in Barcelona. But he admits that beating Barcelona might be too difficult a task for Juventus.

Le Miere says Juventus, a grand institution with more Serie A titles than any other team and two European Cups already under the belt, have reveled in an unexpected new role of plucky underdogs.

According to him, “where Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid went before them, Juventus now follow. All three have shown that a coherent strategy throughout the club and smart coaching can still trump bank balances and talent, even in an era increasingly dominated by Europe’s super clubs. Yet having disturbed the oligopoly at the top of the European game, Juventus’ task is to now do what Dortmund and Atletico couldn’t and walk home with the trophy.”

He admits that the task for “Juventus is to overcome the combined individual brilliance and near-telepathic understanding of possibly the greatest forward trio of all time.

“Barcelona may have a squad full of quality, still including many of those who won the Champions League in 2009 and 2011, but the current incarnation under Luis Enrique is less about the club’s famed possession and pressing philosophy and more to do with the brilliance up front.”

In conclusion, Le Miere says “Juventus have the defensive organization to make things difficult for Barcelona as well as cause problems on the break through the front duo of Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata. Yet there just seems no stopping Barcelona’s sensational forward trio at this moment. If Messi, Neymar and Suarez are fit and on form they have to be favoured to deliver Barcelona the silverware.

“I think Juventus are the only team left that can stifle Barcelona, and I say that because they’ve got very good defenders – proper defenders. That’s why I think they’ve got a chance of lifting the trophy, I really do.

“If I’m being honest, I was well impressed with Juventus in the first leg, especially in the first 20 minutes – Real Madrid didn’t have a clue what was going on.

“I couldn’t believe how good they were, but they got knocked sideways a bit when it went 1-1.”
Merson highlighted the importance of Paul Pogba’s return to fitness ahead of the final, adding, “With Carlos Tevez on the field and Pogba coming back – which makes a big difference – they’re a serious threat to Barcelona.”

International football journalist, Rob Hughes, believes that Juventus’ acknowledgement of the power in Barcelona’s attack could be a trap for the Catalans.

Referring to Captain Gianlluigi Buffon’s recent statement on the Champions League final, Hughes warns Barcelona to “beware the old Italian, who speaks with pessimism about facing a team like Barcelona but whose eyes burn with a piercing intensity.”

Buffon said shortly after his team’s defeat of Real Madrid, “this is a step we wanted to take with all our hearts. But unfortunately at the end of it we face a really outstanding Barcelona, a team in my opinion that is physically and mentally stronger than ours.”

To Hughes, such statement is ominous because “in victory, he managed to look doleful, almost fearful.

“If I’m not mistaken, the Italians said something similar going into their 2006 World Cup final against France. It was in the same stadium in Berlin where the Champions League final will be held June 6.”

Hughes said there was an obvious truth in the words of Buffon about facing Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar, “ however, he faced down Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, and while none of those three were in top form, it still took a penalty kick for them to score.”

The semifinals showed that teamwork and a committed defense can defeat the world’s most celebrated individuals, and that will likely remain the key in the final against Barcelona, too. And Juventus, led by its keeper, have an exceptional team ethic.

Juventus have an enthralling blend of veterans (the Italians, Carlos Tevez and Patrice Evra) with hungry young talents like Álvaro Morata and Paul Pogba.

Can Juventus beat Barcelona? Hughes says, “Not if Barcelona is firing on all cylinders. But Juventus, known as the Old Lady, has shown that if every man on its team shows his best and their opponents do not, then anything can happen.”’s Tom Sutton believes June 6’s clash in Berlin will lay to rest the age long confrontation between talent and good organization, saying, “Barcelona will go into the game as favourites but the role as underdogs could bode well in Juventus’ favour.”

According to Sutton, “both have been exceptional in this year’s competition and have fought off Europe’s elite to get to showpiece final. But there can only be one winner! 

“One is the experienced heads, which Juventus have in abundance in Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo, Giorgio Chiellini, Patrice Evra and even Carlos Tevez, who have all been in this position before and know how to handle the occasion. 

“It may well be a game of patience against Barcelona because trying to out-attack them seems virtually impossible, as Bayern Munich found out. Juventus will need to hold firm and pick the right moments to exploit the Spanish giants and it will be up to these experienced players to find out when these moments are.”

Former Nigerian captain, Segun Odegbami, is among those who believe that Barcelona’s terrific trio, Messi, Neymar and Suarez, will take the fames Juventus defence on a merry go round on Saturday, June 6.

He said that of particular interest to many analysts in the game are two principal actors that will play a very significant role in this football drama. They both have headaches!

According to Odegbami, Luis Enrique and Massiliano Allegri, the managers of FC Barcelona and Juventus FC respectively, both have big headaches, which in Enrique’s case is the kind of headache many coaches would pray to have.

“As coach of Barcelona in the past seasons Luis inherited a team that had reached its peak, was actually on the wane, and that revolved around one indispensable player. Without Lionel Messi Barcelona would never have been the best team in Europe for four consecutive years. He was the team’s talisman, and its system and philosophy were molded around his extra-ordinary talent. 

“Managing such a big ego would be a pleasant challenge for any manager. Pep Guardiola and every succeeding manager after him have had to allow Messi absolutely free rein for the team to succeed,” he said, adding, however, that Enrique has managed that and even created a system that now ensures that Messi, Neymar and Suarez are the most dreaded combination in world football.

“At the tail end of the 2015 season the impossible has become reality. How Luis Enrique did it would be of massive interest to students of football.  But a goal-scoring machine has been created with all three players contributing to the greatest haul of goals probably in the history of the Champions league. A new system has also been created with all three players playing upfront, transforming FC Barcelona from the five-man mid-field system that made them the greatest team in the history of football in the late 2000s, to a new team this season that has become the greatest goal-scoring machine in European football.

“This surely is a good headache to have going into the finals of the 2015 Champions league final match.”
Odegbami also submits that Juventus’ Coach, Allegri, has his own headaches going into the final.

He says, “so far in the championship Allegri has been playing safe and harmless. Until Juventus faced up to Real Madrid in the past two weeks, the team, despite their dominance of the Italian league in the past four seasons, did not strike anyone as good enough to win the Champions league.

“Now, their innocence has evaporated with their last two victories. They have now been unrobed and would have to come face to face with the full armory of an FC Barcelona side still under construction but in devastating goal scoring form. Barca are still not perfectly formed yet, but they are winning their matches and scoring goals even when they are not playing as well as they have done in years past.”

There are weaknesses still at the back, and the team’s midfield is ageing. But to under-rate them is to sign a death warrant!”

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