One Spanish Super Cup, two Valverdes

The world of football is still coming to terms from the aftershock following Barcelona's loss to Atlético Madrid in Jeddah last week in the Spanish Super Cup semi-final and the reaction from the Barça board to the defeat. After a week-end of looking for a replacement, the Catalan club have opted for Quique Setién as his replacement with the former Betis manager somewhat of a third choice. Valverde has been under-fire on the Camp Nou bench for some time now with one of his crimes being a distortion of the Barça style of play (aka tiqui-taca) and who knows, but the sight of Real Madrid admirably employing this style just the previous day may have had some influence in the decision to terminate his contract.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde

Barça style of play

As part of the club's quest to re-find the Barça style, the club went in search of Xavi, with the current Al-Saad coach saying no to the Catalan club's overtures. Along with Andres Iniesta, the Terrassa born Xavi embodies the essence of de tiqui-taca, a style that is difficult to replicate without the required rae material. I have to admit that his negative response came as a a surprise to me, as a few years back when we were discussing his career path, overseeing the Catalan club as a coach was part of the long term plan. He doesn't believe in the figure of an omni-present head coach and opts more for a group of six or seven key backroom staff fronted by a figure-head. “The first thing I need to do is create my group and that is a process which requires time, later I can plan bigger objectives”. And that's exactly what he is currently undergoing. To add more salt in the wounds, former Barcelona player and current Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman also said no to the Catalan club.

Real Madrid's Federico Valverde is shown a red card by the referee

Fede Valverde

From former Barça boss to the the other Valverde who is generating waves of positive acclaim for his Real Madrid performances this season and who was also named as the Super Cup MVP. For many, Fede Valverde is the definitive breakthrough player of the 2019-20 season and it's not so often this acclaim is aimed at a player in the big clubs. The Uruguayan central player has all the energy in the centre of the park that Zidane was initially looking for in Paul Pogba. Valverde would be, in the eyes of coaching great Sacchi a player who is: “non-stop on every pitch, every time”. His last action of the tournament was his 'tactical' foul on Atleti striker Morata as the striker bore down on goal with the Uruguayan receiving a straight red for his action which he later apologised for but acknowledging that it was something he "had to do".