Barcelona have struggled in Lionel Messi's absence this season following the Argentine's departure to Paris Saint-Germain. However, that is no excuse, according to Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone. The Argentine tactician believes the Blaugrana still have a strong squad and has pointed to a couple of decent players in their ranks.
"Barcelona don't have Lionel Messi? Look at their team. Sergi Roberto, Sergino Dest, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Ronald Araujo, Jordi Alba, Alejandro Balde who is 17 years old."
Simeone also spoke about the midfielders and attackers within the Barcelona squad.
"Pedri, Gavi — did you see him against Italy? Ousmane Dembele, Sergio Aguero, Ansu Fati, Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, Philippe Coutinho… You lost Messi? We never had Messi. Nah, don't give me excuses."
The Atletico Madrid boss also believes Barca's French duo of Samuel Umtiti and Clement are good players going through a lean period.
"Samuel Umtiti is a good player who's going through a rough patch you could say. It's the same for Lenglet. He's an incredibly important centre-back. Look at how good he was before, important in multiple league titles. Come on, man."
Simeone's comments come in the wake of Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman citing the lack of experience in the squad as an excuse. Koeman made those comments following the Blaugrana's 2-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid before the ongoing international break.
Koeman said at his press conference after the match against the Rojiblancos:
"The game had two different parts. We didn’t come out well, we had trouble pressuring, they (Atletico Madrid) created more chances. In the second half we were better but it was very disputed."
The Barcelona manager referred to the differences in composition of the two sides.
"Looking at both teams, they have a more experienced squad. We play with two two 18-year-olds in midfield and two 20-year-olds in defense. You have to analyze everything, not just the result."
Barcelona going through a rough patch
Barcelona kick-started the post-Messi era on a promising note, claiming seven points from their first three La Liga fixtures this season. However, as we've learned so far, that was just a honeymoon period. Reality has struck in recent weeks and the Catalan giants are now struggling to get a foothold.
Barcelona have claimed just one victory in their last six games across all competitions. The Blaugrana currently rank ninth in the Liga table with 12 points in seven games. They also risk missing out on the Champions League knockout phase after suffering successive 3-0 defeats in their two UCL games so far this season.
As it stands, Ronald Koeman's job is on the line. Unless there is a drastic improvement in the coming weeks, nothing will stop the Dutchman from facing the ax.