Before the start of the 2020/21 season, Barcelona were a complete wreck. Already suffering from the ignominy of a trophyless season and blighted by boardroom issues, Lionel Messi’s desire to leave also presented another huge conundrum to the club.
The Argentine magician, who has been at the Camp Nou since he was an adolescent, wanted to walk away after becoming frustrated with the club’s lack of ambition in recent years.
After Setien was sacked, the man tasked with leading the club back to the summit of European football was Ronald Koeman, who was appointed the head coach until June 30, 2022, after he parted ways with the Netherlands national team. Koeman dug up the transfer window and signed many players, thus waving a farewell to the senior players in the team.
The departure of Luis Suarez to Atletico Madrid, Vidal to Inter Milan, Ivan Rakitic to Sevilla, and Juventus-Barca swap deal(Arthur swapped for Pjanic) had left the Blaugranians in a chaos, wondering the Dutch boss’s plan.
Koeman is trusting the club’s youth system and has signed young players which included the Ajax right back Sergino Dest, to replace the Portuguese Defender Nelson Semedo, who paved his way to Wolves. Pedri, Konrad and Trincao were added to the squad list, along with LaMasia graduates Alena, Ansu Fati and Riqui Puig.
Koeman opted for a 4-2-3-1 headlined by Messi starting as a false nine. Phillipe Coutinho operated at No. 10 with Ansu Fati and Antoine Griezmann the left and right respectively. The central midfield consisted of Frenkie DeJong and Miralem Pjanic, as Jordi Alba, Clement Lenglet, Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto made up the back four ahead of Ter Stegen in goal. The Dutchman’s starting XI at the first game of the season was:
The start of the season was good as Barcelona performed quite well in the Champions League with a head start on 4 victories in the Group stage, clashing with Juventus, Ferencvaros and Dynamo Kyiv and bagging 12 points, 3 ahead of Juventus. Upcoming matches with Juventus on December 9, fans are eager to watch Messi and CR7 face each other in the group stage clash.
Barca’s progressive wins and performance-wise consistency in the Champions League has placed them at the top of the Group-G Knockout Stage, but on the contrary of which, the Spanish club is struggling to make progress in LaLiga, placing them 13th in the league table, with Real Sociedad at first, followed by Real Madrid in the second position. Barca had also conceded three goals against Real Madrid in the El Clasico clash, with Fati scoring at close range in the first half.
Barcelona’s latest victory over Dynamo Kyiv(4-0) had only 4 players from the main squad, with Martin Braithwaite, Dest, Trincao and Pedri featuring in the starting XI. Lionel Messi and Frenkie DeJong were benched for their recent international duties. Pique, Roberto, Fati, Araujo and Busquets were injured and expected to make a progressive recovery for the upcoming UCL matches.
Let’s hope for the best and have a pillar of belief that the Dutchman could take his team to more victories, and possibly winning the Champions League this season (too much to ask?).