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Managerial issues, ageing squad or Bartemou’s decisions – What has gone wrong at FC Barcelona this season?

Picture Source: Twitter

Barcelona has seen a lot of ups and downs in their 120 years of rich history. They are known for their ideology of tiki taka and passing the ball and not only the style of playing but the players also have good discipline on and off the pitch. That’s the kind of mindset Barcelona instills in their players.

The Barcelona board members have always believed in their homegrown players. They are the only team among Europe’s big five leagues to win six trophies in a calendar year. But they have also had their fair share of disappointments; Barcelona’s last trophyless season was during the 2013-14 season breaking their streak of winning a major trophy in every season for the past six years.

WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATE OF BARCELONA?

  • An ageing squad – Currently at Barcelona there are 7 players who are over 30 years of age. Ageing squad can be a real itch in this sport. The oldest in this squad is Luis Suarez who is 33 years of age and the youngest is Ansu Fati who is 17 years of age. The problem with this squad is not only would these 7 players retire over the next couple years or even so the club might sell them but also having old players in your squad reduces the efficiency that is needed to win games on continuous occasions.
  • Spending lots of money – The board’s focus is shifting from using homegrown players to buying big players from the market. Barcelona has spent 120 million euros on Antoine Griezmann this season. Although the French international has scored 20 goals this season in all the competitions for Barcelona he hasn’t lived up to everyone’s expectations. They expected Griezmann to do unimaginable stuff in the time he played but he has missed a lot of open goals this season and his outrageous wages make his performance look further bad. In his defence Griezmann does exceptionally well when it comes to defending and tracks back with all his heart.
  • The coach – For a club as big as Barcelona, Quique Setien has definitely been a disappointment this season as the coach. This season the Blaugranas have lost the Copa Del Rey race by being knocked out by Athletic Club in the Quarter finals. In La Liga, Barcelona had a good lead over Real Madrid before the pandemic but they slipped up in the last few games and lost the lead eventually losing the La Liga title to their rivals Real Madrid. They still have to see what’s going to happen in the Uefa Champions League next month, but the situation doesn’t look so promising for the Catalan giants.
  • Weak defence – The defence has probably been the most disappointing aspects of this club this season. At the back, they have Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba and for backup they have Junior Firpo, Sergio Roberto and Samuel Umtiti. So what’s truly lacking in this defence is pace. Semedo and Alba have the pace to run towards the opposition’s goal and cross it into the box but while facing a counter attack, Pique and Lenglet cannot cover a lot of ground while chasing the attackers and that doesn’t end well in most circumstances.

HERE’S WHAT BARCELONA NEEDS TO DO TO IMPROVE THE CURRENT STATE:

  • Promoting La Masia talent – Keeping aside the main Barcelona team, the club is known for their youth academy, La Masia. A lot of players like Puyol, Messi, Pique, Iniesta etc have graduated from this prestigious academy. La Masia is one of the best in business when it comes to developing players from a young age. They have to promote more of these youth academy players to decrease the average age of the squad.
  • Give chance to young players – The Catalan giants need to stop focusing on buying more and more strikers and midfielders. Griezmann, Ansu Fati, Dembele will take care of the future of forwards at Barcelona. When it comes to Midfield, Frenkie De Jong, Riqui Puig have shown great promise and will be taking more central roles as time passes by. Barcelona has also recently swapped Arthur Melo for Miralem Pjanic who currently plays for Juventus in the midfield. No doubt Pjanic is a brilliant player but he again is 30 years.
Xavi is one of the contenders to take over at the Nou Camp. (Picture Source: Twitter)
  • A strong coach – Barcelona have set high standards for a manager with its recent history constituting names like Johan Cruyff, Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique. Setien has had a disappointing season at Barcelona and unless there’s an improvement in the upcoming UEFA Champions League tournament the board will probably not allow Setien to continue another season. The club needs a mentally strong coach for it to help the team get past difficult phases.
  • Strengthening defence – The club needs to promote more defenders from their youth academy and also buy a couple of defenders until the youth academy players settle. But that doesn’t mean the club should go on a spending spree on the market. They should have a fixed budget to strengthen the defence.

With Bayern Munich’s form and Atlanta’s determination this season, Champions League will be a difficult road to tread for Setien’s men and it’ll be interesting to see if the Blaugranas will prevail and finally give the fans what they have been asking since the past five years.

Also Read: Can Atalanta drive a nail in PSG’s coffin?

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