5 changes Barcelona need to make next season
The parallels between the conclusion of the 2017-18 and the 2018-19 seasons will provide nightmares for Barcelona fans for years to come.
2018, a loss to AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals cast a dark shadow over what had been a stellar season domestically. The Blaugrana had won La Liga - and would go on to win the Copa del Rey - at a canter but the 3-0 loss in Rome spoilt the mood.
What followed a season later was even worse. Nursing a 3-0 lead against Liverpool from the UCL semifinal first leg, Barca were disgraceful at Anfield, losing 4-0. The consolation of the Copa del Rey was also absent as they were beaten 2-1 in the final by Valencia.
Calls for the sack of manager Ernesto Valverde have gone unheeded by the club’s management, well aware of the paucity of “big-name” coaches in the market.
Meanwhile, it became very clear that the title win was due not only to the team’s quality but also down to the troubles of the opposition, especially the Madrid teams; Atletico and Real.
Changes (some of which are way overdue) will be expected in this close season. Here are five of the most pressing:
#5 Reduce the average age of the squad
With an average age of 27.6, this shouldn’t be much of a problem for the team. However, it becomes a problem when a lot of the football is played by a majority of the team’s elder statesmen.
Of the 14 players who made 40+ appearances in all competitions last season, 7 were aged 30 and more (Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi).
This over-reliance on the older players affected the team’s play as in certain games where speed was needed (the second leg against Liverpool for instance), it was lacking.
The aforementioned seven players have been amongst the team’s best players in a long time and whenever they went off the boil collectively, the team suffered as a whole.
Valverde deserves a large portion of the blame for this as he often failed to pick teams that would utilize these older players effectively alongside their younger colleagues.
The likes of Frenkie de Jong, Arthur, Malcom, Carles Alena and Ousmane Dembele (when fit) will need to be given game time to allow the older heads to function more effectively.