Lionel Messi is gone to Paris Saint German on a free transfer after Barcelona failed to renew his contract. The life of every Barcelona fan has changed completely as it’s hard to think about life after Messi so soon. The way it all unfolded was quite shocking for everyone. It will take some getting used to for people to see Barcelona without the magic man playing week-in week-out, and the team will have to evolve tactically.
Barcelona and Ronald Koeman need to rethink how the team will play because everything used to flow through Lionel Messi. He was the center of everything the team has done for more than a decade now. To have this changed, so quickly, just a few days before the season begins is a massive task for any manager. Ronald Koeman still hasn’t been able to win the trust of the fan base due to how the team performed last season.
THE FRONT LINE IS PROMISING
Barcelona won 3-0 against Juventus at the Gamper game, their first in the new era. The attack showed promise even though it was a friendly match. Koeman tried a couple of permutations and combinations to find the right balance in attack. Yusuf Demir played the advanced midfielder or the ‘Pedri role’ which was nice to see. He assisted the goal scored by Memphis in the third minute.
The team has good options in attack this time round with exciting young players. Even though Sergio Aguero and Ousmane Dembele are injured, the team still has plenty of firepower. The new signings Memphis Depay and Yusuf Demir have shown promise, and will be starting every game. The Austrian has impressed Koeman the most, and will continue to play for the first team. We have almost forgotten how good Ansu Fati has been due to being out for a long time. The 18-year-old is set to return in September, just after the first International Break.
Alex Collado is also staying at the club, and could prove to be vital for the first team. His versatility and the ability to play on the right and as a number 9 will be very useful. As the B team captain, he knows what’s expected of him, and would straight away be able to create an impact. Martin Brathwaite is a tough one, as the club is looking to sell him. There are offers, but he wants to stay. With Aguero out, he can be a useful option from the bench. The Danish has two goals in two friendly games so far. Griezmann is also part of the project, and will be playing regularly.
THE MIDFIELD IS VERSATILE
Riqui Puig scored a curler at the last minute against Juventus showing that he can be trusted more than he was last season. But he’s not the only one who has talent. La Masia players in Nico Gonzales and Gavi are the rising stars for Barcelona. They’ve shown in pre-season that they’re ready for the first team. Koeman will be calling them up for La Liga and Champions League games from time to time.
New captain Sergio Bousquets, Frenkie De Jong, and Pedri will be undisputed starters at least for the start of the season. Pedri will be given rest, and his minutes will be shared between Demir, Riqui and Gavi. The 18-year-old kid has played 72 games in a year, and has refused to take a vacation. Barcelona will try to give him rest in the International Break in September by asking Spain not to take him.
The team has good players in the middle and in attack. How they can link-up with each other remains to be seen, but there’s a lot of talent there. Memphis has a never give up attitude visible on the pitch. Demir and Pedri ca play in the advanced number 10 role, but both are teenagers.
The young sensation Gavi can be relied upon as well, but the team must protect the 16-year-old. He’s just a kid, and needs a lot of time to develop. As fans, we should not put him at a pedestal and expect him to be the next Iniesta or something.
THE DEFENCE HAS A LOT TO PROVE
The backline has a similar story to the frontline since there are major additions to it. With the arrival of Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal, the Barca defence will look a lot different than before. Umtiti will probably be sold if there’s a club he’s willing to go to. Gerrad Pique’s minutes will be shared with Ronald Araujo, Eric, and Mingueza as the player is getting old.
Emerson just made his debut against Juventus where he played around 25 minutes. Eric Garcia and Mingueza will be joining training this week after coming back from the Olympics. The backline has always been shaky, and a lot of work needs to be done there. Araujo’s pace is very helpful for the team to deal against counter attacks. How will he partner with Eric however remains to be seen, since that is the future centre-back painting of the team.
Overall, the team looks in good shape, with good options in all areas of the pitch. It will be difficult to adjust without Messi, but everyone will eventually get used to it. The young players signed, and coming through La Masia are certainly a ray of hope for the club.