Soccer

Barcelona’s Season Still at Risk Despite Messi Staying

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 30: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona shows his dejection during the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on June 30, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain.
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Last season was a tough one for the Catalonian side. After failing to win La Liga or the Copa Del Rey, Barcelona’s season ended with an 8-2 embarrassment at the hands of Bayern Munich. The Champions League exit summed up a season ripe with disappointment quite fittingly.

Further problems surrounded the club in the month following the defeat. Star and arguably the world’s best player Lionel Messi publicly announced his will to leave the club. After a long and strenuous month of negotiations and legal battles, Messi confirmed that he would stay at the club.

This announcement came as a relief to Barcelona fans, but the club’s problems are far from over. Performances last season lacked the typical Barca flair and attacking organization. Defensive mistakes from the back four were also prevalent. All in all, it was merely a lousy season with little personality being shown on the field.

If the club’s directors want to improve from last season’s disaster, they need to make drastic changes.

Rejuvenate the Squad

Last year’s lineups often included the likes of 33-year-olds Arturo Vidal and Pique, 32-year-old Luis Suarez, and a 32-year-old Sergio Busquets. In their primes, all were world-class players. However, in the year 2020, that’s not the case.

If the club seeks domestic and European success, they need players in or before their primes. Fading stars are the opposite of what is wanted at Camp Nou.

They look to be making decent progress as they are currently pursuing Gini Wjinaldum and Memphis Depay. Wjinaldum recently won the Premier League with Liverpool, and he certainly has the skill set necessary to aid Barca. Depay is the most promising of the Dutch duo as he is 26 and in his best years.

Regain An Identity

Under former boss Quique SetiƩn, Barcelona was out of touch. Many games saw them dominate the game, possession-wise, with no viable attack. Over and over, the team posted underwhelming results.

Take, for example, the July 16th match against Osasuna in La Liga. Throughout the game, Messi and company barely let Osasuna get a taste of the ball with a staggering 80% possession. In most cases, that statistic alone would lead to a win. However, Barcelona lost 2-1 in the match that confirmed rivals Real Madrid as La Liga champions.

Barcelona squad of years past had similar possession stats, but they capitalized on their domination. Rather than sitting idly in the midfield and switching back and forth for large chunks of the match, squads even five years ago demonstrated attacking prowess. Crosses whipped in, through balls sent, every aspect of the attack was covered. Last year’s team was a far cry from the style that Barcelona essentially pioneered.

While Messi will undoubtedly prove to be a huge help, the team cannot rely on him as they did last year. With new manager Ronald Koeman being known for his free-flowing style of play, Barca’s hopes of a successful season aren’t lost yet but could be at risk.

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