3 things Barcelona must do to become a European powerhouse again
Barcelona started the 2019-20 season on the worst possible note, tasting defeat against Athletic Bilbao on Friday evening in the LaLiga. The Catalan giants had a mixed preseason but very few expected their season proper to begin this way.
Despite spending a lot of money in the summer transfer window, the club appears to be no better than it was last season. Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong were signed for big money, but neither made headlines in the game against Bilbao.
In the absence of the talismanic Lionel Messi Barcelona laboured to create opportunities, with Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele and Griezmann all lacking potency upfront. This has become an all too familiar story when the Argentine magician is not around.
There is still a long way to go in the season but on the evidence of Barca’s performance on Friday, it is obvious that the Blaugrana are far from the top European side that they used to be.
Here are 3 things Barcelona must do to become a European powerhouse again:
#3 Sack Ernesto Valverde
The first step to getting the Barcelona of old back is to sack manager Ernesto Valverde. The case of the Spanish manager is very tricky, but he has so far proven that there's something amiss in his managerial style.
Although he has led Barcelona to the LaLiga title in each of his two seasons in charge, the club’s performance in Europe has been sub-par. The 3-0 collapse at AS Roma two seasons ago was largely thought to be a fluke, but what happened at Anfied last season was further proof that Valverde struggles to hold his own when the stakes are high.
It is one thing to lose a game, but it is entirely another to lose, twice, after taking commanding leads. The only positive thing the former Athletic Bilbao manager can point to is domestic success, but Barcelona deserve better than that.
Add to that the fact that Barca’s football under him has been languid and uninspiring, and it raises serious questions about his suitability. The Catalans should be challenging in Europe each year, but Valverde is not the man to help them do that.