Is Barcelona strong enough to win UCL this season?
Every European club wants to win the UCL. No other trophies can satisfy a European giant like Barcelona without winning it. Barcelona won it in the 2014-15 season for the last time. Since then, their arch-rival Real Madrid won it three times consecutively(4 times in the last 5 years). Barcelona even could not overcome the quarter-finals in the previous three seasons. In 2016, 2017 and 2018 they were dumped out of the tournament at the quarter-final stages by Atletico Madrid, Juventus and AS Roma respectively. It's an enormous disappointment for a club like Barcelona having arguably the greatest ever footballer on their side. Are they going to win it this season?
To win it they need some improvements in the squad before the transfer window gets closed.
Bench needs to be strengthened
Barcelona need some changes in the squad before the busy season starts. The biggest problem is that the team is burdened with a lot of fringe players. Quality is few and far between in this team disregarding the first eleven. To compete for all of the trophies, a very balanced and strong squad is required where everyone can play their roles when the coach requires them. During the long season, if almost the same players keep playing, they get fatigued in the later part of the season.
Throughout his first season at Barcelona, Ernesto Valverde played almost the same team. Whenever he tried to rotate, his fringe players frustrated him. That is why he rarely gave any rest to the first team players like Messi, Suarez, Rakitic, Busquets, Pique, Umtiti and Alba. As per whoscored.com, Messi, Suarez, Busquets, Rakitic, Alba and Pique were involved in 52, 49, 48, 52, 46, and 46 matches respectively in all competitions for Barcelona in the 2017-18 season. On the contrary, Andre Gomes, Denis Suarez, Paco Alcacer and Ousmane Dembele started just 10, 8, 9 and 14 matches respectively in all competitions throughout the 2017-18 season.
Lack of rotation and resulting fatigue among the players may contribute to their failure in the UCL in the previous seasons. Extreme fatigue among the players was evident throughout the match against AS Roma. Average and ineffective players are still on the team. Legendary midfielder Andres Iniesta's departure from the club just added fuel to the existing fire, though the sale of Paulinho to his former club looks good business.
Solution of fullback problem
They have already signed Clement Lenglet from Sevilla. He will strengthen the back line without any doubt. But the right-back position is still vulnerable. Sergi Roberto is not a natural defender and Semedo has failed to live up to the expectations. On the left flank of the defense, Lucas Digne is not a proper back up for Jordi Alba. With Digne in the starting XI, Barcelona lost points against Juventus, Espanyol (both in La Liga and Copa del Rey), Getafe, Las Palmas and Celta Vigo in the last season according to whoscored.com.
Creative midfielders are needed
In midfield Busquets, Iniesta and Rakitic were the undisputed starters during the previous season with having no viable options to choose from. Although Coutinho came in, it will be a herculean task for the Brazilian to fill the void left by a player of Iniesta's caliber. Coutinho is more attacking and scores fantastic goals but he is not a controller of the game like Iniesta is.
Barcelona have signed Arthur Melo from the Brazilian club Gremio. He might be a great addition to the team for the future. But the 21-year-old Brazilian needs time to adapt to life in Europe and to the style of Barca. Some players are heavily being linked with a move to the Catalan club such as Ajax youngster Frenkie de Jong and PSG midfielder Rabiot as per numerous reports by Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo and Sport. But both of the transfers are looking very complicated because of the stubbornness of Ajax and the adverse relationship between Barcelona and PSG. Therefore, there is still no depth in the midfield.
Right wing is still void
With the departure of Neymar Jr, a huge void had been created in the attack of Barcelona. Ousmane Dembele was signed as a potential replacement for the Brazilian. But the France international completely frustrated Barcelona with his frequent injuries and lackluster performances in his first Season at Camp Nou. According to whoscored.com, he dispossessed 3.8 times per 90 minutes in La Liga in his first season with the Catalan club. In addition, Luis Suarez's shambolic performance throughout the last season is a massive concern for Barcelona. He scored just one goal in the whole season of UCL, 2017-18 which put tremendous pressure on Lionel Messi.
In light of the above discussion, it's transparent that Barcelona need some immediate performers both in attack and midfield to challenge the European giants for the UCL. Average and unnecessary players need to be sold to raise funds and some quality needs to be injected into the team.