Bringing in Ibra in stead of Eto'o definately changed our tactics. My first thought of Ibra when he joined was great: big strong guy with great technique, better in link up play and finishing then Eto'o. (because let's face it, Eto'o had his dry periods as well) He started off good in his first games (lot's of goals in the beginning), but a football eye could see that he didn't yet blend into the squad. I thought it was normal because everyone needs a time to gel in. When you take his goals away, like in the last couple of weeks/months, you see that he still doesn't bring much to our game.
Arguably because of his confidence problems, his first touch became awful. His positioning is very onesided: he allways attacks the second post when the ball is out wide, inviting the long and high cross in. Why doesn't he come short? He would be available for a pass on the ground then! Have you ever seen him set up a dangerous one-two where he put a ball in behind the defense for a winger to run in to? It's only logical that Pep took away our wide play because it has become totally uneffective. We don't have the wingers that hug the line and put in crosses from that position. Messi on his best tried to cut inside from out wide trying to play a dangerous one two with Eto'o (using Eto'o as a pivot) or playing a weighted through ball for him.
Another problem is Ibra's lack of sheer pace. We knew that he wasn't as fast as Eto'o. If we want Ibra to run vertical, your pass needs to weighted to perfection. He tries to make up for his shortage in pace by playing on the same line as the last defender, but he doesn't do it so well.. He strays offside a lot..
All the above changed the way our midfielders behave. Because of the lack of pace up front and the lack of wingers on both sides, our playing field is smaller. Opposition defenders can push up and play narrower. There is far less space for Xavi and Iniesta to be creative in. The game against Stuttgart was a perfect example of this.
Another major difference compared to last season is our starting mentality. Sure, as said before on this forum, we are still looking for possession, and this is good. After all it is the Barça way. But what we are lacking is a certain directness towards the goal. We have to try more and we have to try harder. It almost looks as if the players don't want to lose the ball, because if they do, they will have to put pressure (lot's of work) again. Currently the only player with the goal in mind is Messi. And perhaps there is a bit of a complacency issue as well..
Can Pep solve his/these problems? I sure hope so!!!