Questions surrounding Barcelona ahead of their 2020-21 campaign
Spanish club Barcelona will be starting their 2020-21 campaign against Villarreal in La Liga on Monday (12:30 AM IST). After a disappointing end to the 2019-20 campaign, the summer has been a turbulent one for Barcelona off the field. New manager Ronald Koeman faces many uncertainties as there are questions surrounding the club. Here we decode the same.
Luiz Suarez had to depart Barcelona after Koeman said the forward wasn't part of his plans. The legendary striker leaves a lasting legacy- 198 goals across competitions. Barcelona have the players in attack, however, there is no direct replacement for the Uruguayan, who joined rivals Atletico Madrid. Besides the injured Martin Braithwaite, there is no out-and-out striker in the club.
Barcelona shelled out a staggering £350m in transfers for the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, and Antoine Griezmann. However, they haven't justified their price tags. Coutinho has just returned after a loan spell at Bayern. Dembele has battled injuries and inconsistency has begun to appear in just 74 games. Griezmann is nowhere near to the standards seen at Atletico.
The 8-2 hammering by Bayern in the UEFA Champions League 2019-20 season highlighted Barca's issues. In La Liga, Barca conceded 38 goals to Real Madrid's 25. Going into the new season, Barca haven't done anything to bolster this department. Nelson Semedo's departure leaves Barca thin at right-back. There are issues centrally as well with not much quality in the ranks.
The biggest issue at hand is handling Lionel Messi. The legend submitted a transfer request in the summer and spoke publicly against the club president. Messi is also unhappy with the departure of Suarez. Koeman has limited time to persuade Messi that he can build a world-class team. Messi is likely to sign a pre-contract with another club in January.
A major challenge for Koeman will be to find the right balance. The mid-field was left overrun last season and couldn't deal with counter-attacks on several occasions. It remains to be seen whether Koeman employs a 4-2-3-1 formation more regularly or goes with 4-3-3. The full-backs need to push higher. For the first time in years, they are not favorites to win La Liga.