As FC Barcelona prepare to face off against Atheltic Bilbao in their opening game of the Spanish La Liga season, we look at three key questions that the club need to resolve if they are to defend their Spanish title crown.
FC Barcelona won the treble last season. It included, in the end, a comfortable league title glory after a stuttering start to the campaign, when it looked like Real Madrid will run away with the title.
As we approach the new season, Barcelona have once again had a mixed start and we look at three questions that the club need to find a solution to in order to retain the Spanish championship.
1 – What is wrong with the defence?
FC Barcelona conceded a miserly 21 goals on their way to the title last season. It was the least in the league by a huge margin, with next best defence of Atletico Madrid conceding 29 times. To put it into context, second place Real Madrid conceded 17 more than FC Barcelona last season with 38 goals finding their net.
This season however, has begun on a rather worrying note for the Blaugrana’s defence. In their opening competitive fixture against Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup, the defence conceded four goals, blowing away a 4-1 lead.
Indeed, the chinks in the defence came haunt them big time against Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup as they were thrashed 4-0 in the first leg.
In total, in three competitive games, Barcelona have conceded 9 goals. Dani Alves in particular has looked at seas in the defence with goalkeeper Ter Stagen also not covering himself in glory.
Barcelona need to find an answer to their defensive problems if they are to retain the league title.
2 – Why did the club sign Arda Turan?
Despite the transfer ban, FC Barcelona secured the signature of 28 year old winger Arda Turan who will be eligible to play from January.
The side was already filled with attacking genius of Neymar, Suarez, Messi and Pedro, who had cemented his reputation as a pacy, goalscoring winger who worked hard. In Munir and Rafinha, Barcelona had talented young players as back up.
The Turan move, one can argue, pushed Pedro to FC Barcelona exit doors and one wonders was it needed? It is not as if Turan is a big upgrade over Pedro, and the fact that the club made an 8m GBP loss on the deal is even more baffling. To add to this, Turan will be able to play only in January and may take his time to adapt to the FC Barcelona style of play.
3 – Who will replace Pedro?
Barcelona sold Pedro to Chelsea FC after the player made clear he wanted to move on for regular first team football. While FC Barcelona have signed Turan in his position, he will be ineligible to play till January.
The club will have to dip into their squad and play youngsters like Munir or Sandro from the bench or rotate them as and when required in order to keep the first team players fresh.
But, it remains to be seen whom will Enrique prioritize among the two. Sandro has got the better record in the first team having scored four times for Barcelona last season, but questions remain if the Spain under-21 international can cope with demands of an increased role within the first team, something that Pedro became incredibly adept at.
FC Barcelona can also sign a new player, but, that makes little sense given that the same fate will await the new signing as it does to Turan. Surprisingly, Enrique has hinted that he could replace Pedro with a new signing.