A new season is on the horizon. With the summer transfer window almost closing, let's have a look at how Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde can select and strategize with the team at his disposal.
With the Spaniard Andres Iniesta gone, Barcelona will definitely miss the midfield maestro; they have to play without him for the first time in 16 long years. But that should not be a major problem for Valverde as he already has other strong players who can be apt replacements for the Spanish wizard.
Just like last season, Valverde may opt to play the classic 4-4-2 formation. With the two main men Suarez and Messi up front, he also has Alcacer and the new signing Malcom, both of who can play as forwards if the boss wishes to rest his main army.
In the pre-season friendlies, Malcom has shown that he can be a reliable option in the front-line as a poacher.
New signing Vidal has the experience of playing as a defensive midfielder, which can be helpful to the side.
Among others, Valverde has a number of options who can play in defense as well as in offense. Ivan Rakitic can take up the playmaker role in the midfield and make sure that the forwards have enough chances to score goals.
Valverde has a number of options in the midfield, with a lot of players who can be given the chance to shine.
New signing Arthur can play an important role in the side's success. The Brazilian is a talented midfielder who specializes in link-up play and one-touch passes. He can pose a threat to the opposition as he has a special talent for losing his marker, making him a dangerous man close to the box.
Another key asset Sergio Busquets can also be featured in the midfield.
Brazil's Coutinho and Frenchman Dembele can play in left and right midfield respectively as they have the ability to go up - either to create a goal or pop a goal themselves. Coutinho has shown great skills inside the box and after half a season at Barca, he is looking well-entrenched in the side.
He has an eye for scoring long-range curling shots into the top corner with his right foot. A typical playmaker who is very dangerous on the flanks, providing killer passes to his teammates, he will be Valverde's first choice on the left flank.
Meanwhile, the Frenchman is gifted with speed and dribbling; he can run past the opponent fullbacks into crossing positions, or he can cut inside to take a shot at the goal. From both aspects, he will be a prospect to keep an eye on.
With a strong backline, Barcelona will continue to be a challenging side for the opposition to score goals. Two strong center-backs, Gerard Pique and World Cup winner Samuel Umtiti, will be the first choices for Valverde to start.
Thomas Vermaelen, Yerry Mina and Marlon Santos will provide support to the backline if and when needed. Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto are favorites to start as full-backs; Alba has an amazing link up with Lionel Messi as the duo have shown on numerous occasions.
Nelson Semedo is another backup for the full-back position.
If the coach wants some change to the formation, he can play with four attackers up front with a backline of four and two midfielders in defensive duties. Suarez can play the center forward with Coutinho and Dembele on the left and right flanks.
He may choose to put Messi as the attacking midfielder. Rakitic, Busquets, Andre Gomez or Vidal can take up the midfield duties to recover the ball and create an attack. This can be done in a 4-3-3 attacking or a false 9 formation, just like Pep Guardiola's Barcelona side.
Remarkably, Barcelona have the resources to play any formation in the game.
At the goalkeeping position, Marc Andre Ter Stegen will likely start; the German international has been the number one goalkeeper for Barcelona the last few seasons. With Jasper Cillessen providing backup to the German, Barcelona will try to ramp up their clean sheet tally this season.
Goalkeeper: Ter Stegen
Defenders: Pique, Umtiti, Alba, Sergi Roberto
Midfielders: Coutinho, Rakitic, Busquets, Dembele
Forwards: Suarez, Messi
Substitutes: Cillessen, Vidal, Malcom, Alcacer, Semedo, Arthur, Mina, Vermaelen