It is often said that in football, the best defense is to attack. Perhaps in Barcelona this season, Luis Enrique Garcia decided to fully test the validity of this theory. Barcelona despite being star studded in attack with the presence of Lionel Messi, Neymar Junior, Pedro Rodriguez and even Gerard Deulofeu who recently returned from a loan spell at Everton, they decided to sign one of the most controversial players in the Premier League, Luis Suarez.
Luis Suarez’s arrival at Camp Nou is a big bold statement by Barcelona, they need to regain their status as Spain’s best immediately and at any cost after being outplayed by both Real Madrid and La Liga Champions Atletico Madrid last season. They have shown that they are ready to put a terrible season behind them. However, things may backfire.
The Blaugrana aimed to get things done as quickly as possible, Tata Martino was replaced by Luis Enrique just before the end of the season and he had enough time to make the right decisions on how to trim his squad and who to add to it. Goalkeepers Victor Valdes and Jose Manuel Pinto ended their stay at the club after their contracts ended while club captain Carles Puyol decided to call it a day on his career. Denis Suarez and Cristian Tello were loaned out to Sevilla and Porto respectively while Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) and Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) left for a combined fee of €75 million. Jonathan Dos Santos, Bojan Krkic, Oier Olazábal and Isaac Cuenca also left the club for minimal transfer fees.
In the other way, Barcelona signed two solid goalkeepers Real Sociedad’s Claudio Bravo and Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, it may seem logical that Ter Stegen will be the starting goalkeeper under Luis Enrique, but nothing can be taken for granted, as the German goalkeeper needs to prove his ability to cope in La Liga in front of a proven Claudio Bravo. Jeremy Mathieu was the only signing in the defense, a department that Barcelona still needs to improve. The Frenchman, 30 years old, formerly a left back, has been signed for €20 million and he is expected to be a central defender. There is no doubt that his price tag is quite high especially at his age. In the midfield Ivan Rakitic joined from Sevilla and of course Luis Suarez bolstered the attack.
Barcelona’s transfer campaign is far from over, Alex Song, Dani Alves and Ibrahim Afellay might leave the club, another signing in the defensive department is required as they aim to fight on all fronts; Marquinhos could be the right man or perhaps Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen.
In attack, Luis Suarez offers something Barcelona indeed lack, his abilities and skills offer Barcelona a new attacking dimension, he has the ability to attract several defenders and penetrate them even if he doesn’t have enough space. Practically, defenders will be puzzled as they have the likes of Messi, Suarez and Neymar to mark, this will expose Barcelona’s opponents and either result in goals from Barcelona’s rushing midfielders or individual moments of brilliance from the South American trio.
The trident has a potential to score over a hundred goals next season, but they need to be supportive of each other rather than competitive. Luis Suarez’s temper has always hindered him despite his fantastic goal rate, he is already suspended for the start of the season just like the previous one. Lionel Messi forced Zlatan Ibrahimovic out of the club because he wanted to play in that central role up front, today with Suarez’s arrival; things can’t be static as each player is assigned to a position – left, centre or right. The trident needs to be a dynamic one, at times Messi can run through the middle while Suarez supports from the wing and at other times, they switch. Neymar’s flair is his strength yet his weakness; he needs to be more direct and practical especially when playing in Luis Enrique’s system which forces the play to be halted in the middle. All in all, the three forwards need to control their temper and emotions on the pitch, they could be disastrous if they decide to rival each other, but they could be the world’s best combination if they do get along and stay mentally healthy.
Besides these three players, Luis Enrique has Deulofeu and Pedro at his disposal, both of whom he had previously worked with during his days at Barcelona B. Barcelona have the right players to start the season as Neymar sits out through injury and Suarez through suspension. It is important that Barcelona have a good start to their season in the La Liga so that they don’t lose ground in the title race. They should slowly change the old system that the players are used to, of course it’s also Tiki-Taka with Luis Enrique but his football is quite different and more physically demanding so he has to slowly integrate the team into his plans, he shouldn’t revolutionize the club but rather resort to a periodical evolution to help the new players settle in and the old ones adapt to it.
How will Barcelona perform this season? Do you think they have what it takes to win La Liga or will they even go further and aim to win the Champions League? Share your views with us in the comments below!