Who will be Barca’s next No. 7?

After a great Copa del Rey victory against Valencia, Barcelona’s season continues to go from strength to strength and the team are still looking good in all competitions.

As this season approaches its critical point, and with the transfer window now closed again, it is interesting to think about who will be Barcelona’s next number 7.

The number 7, most recently inherited by Arda Turan has a strong history in the Barcelona squad. Recently, two great attackers have worn the number, Pedro and David Villa.

Villa contributed greatly to Barcelona’s treble in 2011 under Pep Guardiola and Pedro was a valuable asset to Luis Enrique, whether starting or coming in as a super sub during the 2014 treble winning season.

FC Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano de Madrid - La Liga
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Before David Villa and Pedro, the most notable player to wear the #7 was Luis Figo. While Barcelona fans are certainly haunted by the player’s move to Real Madrid, he certainly added an attacking flair and prowess while playing for the Blaugrana.

The number 7 has a long history with attacking players who can transform a team. From Ronaldo, to Beckham, and even Eric Cantona, the jersey number is something that can give a player extra confidence.

There have even been strong rumors that Barcelona are saving the No. 7 shirt for Antoine Griezmann and that he will be handed the number if he arrrives at Camp Nou in the summer.

In terms of the current Barcelona system, with Messi occupying the famous #10, Suarez with #9, and Dembele with #11, only one crucial player comes to mind with the #7…and that is Philippe Coutinho.

Valencia v Barcelona - Copa del Rey Semi Final Second Leg
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The Brazilian, who scored his first goal for the Blaugranas against Valencia and guaranteed Barcelona’s spot in the Copa del Rey final, is certainly the most likely selection for the shirt number.

Not only does Coutinho have the attacking intent present in his style of play, but also can provide the flair and goals that a number 7 usually provides.

The start of next season is still a long way away but, at the moment at least, Coutinho looks the most likely to seize the opportunity to wear the famous #7. Visca Barca

Who do you think should be Barca’s next No. 7? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Who will be Barca’s next No. 7?

After a great Copa del Rey victory against Valencia, Barcelona’s season continues to go from strength to strength and the team are still looking good in all competitions.

As this season approaches its critical point, and with the transfer window now closed again, it is interesting to think about who will be Barcelona’s next number 7.

The number 7, most recently inherited by Arda Turan has a strong history in the Barcelona squad. Recently, two great attackers have worn the number, Pedro and David Villa.

Villa contributed greatly to Barcelona’s treble in 2011 under Pep Guardiola and Pedro was a valuable asset to Luis Enrique, whether starting or coming in as a super sub during the 2014 treble winning season.

FC Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano de Madrid - La Liga
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Before David Villa and Pedro, the most notable player to wear the #7 was Luis Figo. While Barcelona fans are certainly haunted by the player’s move to Real Madrid, he certainly added an attacking flair and prowess while playing for the Blaugrana.

The number 7 has a long history with attacking players who can transform a team. From Ronaldo, to Beckham, and even Eric Cantona, the jersey number is something that can give a player extra confidence.

There have even been strong rumors that Barcelona are saving the No. 7 shirt for Antoine Griezmann and that he will be handed the number if he arrrives at Camp Nou in the summer.

In terms of the current Barcelona system, with Messi occupying the famous #10, Suarez with #9, and Dembele with #11, only one crucial player comes to mind with the #7…and that is Philippe Coutinho.

Valencia v Barcelona - Copa del Rey Semi Final Second Leg
Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The Brazilian, who scored his first goal for the Blaugranas against Valencia and guaranteed Barcelona’s spot in the Copa del Rey final, is certainly the most likely selection for the shirt number.

Not only does Coutinho have the attacking intent present in his style of play, but also can provide the flair and goals that a number 7 usually provides.

The start of next season is still a long way away but, at the moment at least, Coutinho looks the most likely to seize the opportunity to wear the famous #7. Visca Barca

Who do you think should be Barca’s next No. 7? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Barcelona spend big but Atletico Madrid and Valencia also strengthen in January window

As the second half of the La Liga season continues, Barcelona sit top of the table with a commanding lead of 11 points. Unwilling to sit patiently and let the season continue, the Blaugranas also had an extremely exciting January transfer window. But it wasn’t just Barcelona who were busy, Valencia and Atletico Madrid also spent during the window, while Real Madrid stayed idle.

So let’s have a look at how Barcelona improved their squad. While the January transfer window usually demands higher prices because of the unwillingness of teams to sell, Barcelona acquired two prized assets.

Philippe Coutinho arrived from Liverpool for €120 million, a fair price in the current transfer market. After the Neymar move in the summer, the transfer window has been extremely inflated, as evidenced by the signing of Aymeric Laporte for €65 million.

FC Barcelona v Deportivo Alaves - La Liga Santander
Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images

Not only does Coutinho come at a fair price, but at an ideal time in the Barcelona season. While he will not be able to play in the Champions League, he will be ushered in slowly throughout the rest of the La Liga and Copa del Rey campaigns, providing valuable rest for Andres Iniesta.

Another key signing is that of center back Yerry Mina, a 23 year-old Colombian defender, who cost the club less than €12 million. While Mina doesn’t have the experience of Laporte, he is younger and comes in with an extremely high potential, another fair value buy.

With a central partnership of Umtiti and Pique for big games, Valverde has the opportunity to allow Mina minutes in the league, especially with an 11 point lead. If the club’s plan comes to fruition, a central partnership of Mina and Umtiti (both younger than 25) will form the core of the defense for years to come (mirroring that of Puyol and Pique).

New Barcelona Signing Yerry Mina Unveiled
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Barca also managed to reduce their wage bill with Javier Mascherano heading for China and Arda Turan, Rafinha and Gerard Deulofeu all out on loan.

Moving onto Barcelona’s closest competitor for the league then, Atletico Madrid. Atletico also signed some key quality players who will help them for the rest of the year. With the return of Diego Costa from Chelsea and the official acquiring of Vitolo (due to the transfer ban), Atletico have the attacking prowess to make a real run for the title.

Not only with two new great attacking players, but what plays in Atletico’s hand for the rest of the season is competition. Unlike Barcelona, Atletico have had an underwhelming season so far that has seen them crash out of the Champions League group stages and also lose in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals to Sevilla.

The team only has one remaining trophy to battle for and it is certain that Diego Simeone will attempt to get the best of his team in the remaining games. Atletico cannot be underestimated and with a reinforced attack, will look to storm back for the La Liga title.

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Photo credit should read PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images

Sitting third in the current league race is Valencia. The team has so far impressed all pundits and fans alike, playing beautiful and winning football. With a solid manager in Marcelino and a backbone in midfield like Geoffrey Kondogbia, Valencia has the prowess to challenge for an automatic Champions League spot.

Over the January transfer window, Valencia added former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin and Luciano Vietto from Atletico. These two players are extremely talented and if given the right opportunities can blossom in La Liga.

Valencia addressed their squad inefficiencies over the January window and added more attacking prowess and depth. It will be interesting to see if Marcelino can continue to motivate his squad to perform week in and week out.

Valencia v Las Palmas - Copa Del Rey
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Lastly, currently placed fourth in La Liga, Real Madrid did a lot of… nothing. In terms of world football, Madrid’s shambolic La Liga campaign has shocked fans, pundits, and players alike.

A team that triumphed handily over Barcelona in the Super Cup looked like a team ready to challenge for a treble. Since then though, their results have been horrible and the Madrid that shows up in the Champions League looks completely different than the La Liga version.

In the January window, Madrid did not to any business both in buying and selling players. Of the squads that needed a possible injection of quality and depth, Madrid certainly would be close to the top of the list. Instead, they have sat silently and seem content with trying to salvage the campaign with the current squad.

Valencia v Real Madrid - La Liga
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Ultimately, this year, Barcelona has not played a card wrong. Their brilliant start to the season continues and they are in contention for three trophies. Not letting the success of the current season undermine their potential for growth in the future, Barcelona has signed two players in the January window who could form the backbone of this team in the years to come.

For now, Blaugranes fans have the right to be excited and hopefully, come May, this team will provide a third treble to a club that deserves exactly that. Visca Barca

Five talking points from Barcelona 2-0 Espanyol

Welcome Philippe Coutinho!

Philippe Coutinho made his official Barcelona first team debut, coming on as a substitute in the 68th minute for Andres Iniesta. He was welcomed with magnificently loud cheers and great applause. Once in the game, Coutinho did not try to exert too much influence on the game and picked the right pass each time. He seemed to fit perfectly into the Barcelona machine, and added some wonderful Brazilian flair in the process.

Barcelona v Espanyol - Spanish Copa del Rey
Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Will Lionel Messi ever stop amazing us?

Again, just as it has been every previous week in the year, Lionel Messi continues to influence matches in every way possible. A couple of wonderful moves and a pass to Aleix Vidal set up Vidal’s wonderful assist to Luis Suarez for the opener. And a couple of minutes later, Messi’s desire to win the ball back allowed him to rip a firecracker from outside the box that was deflected and went in. Throughout the game, Messi would dummy not one or two Espanyol players, but three or four at a time. It truly is a blessing to watch the Argentinian maestro take the field each week, something we should not take for granted.

Barcelona v Espanyol - Spanish Copa del Rey
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Is Aleix Vidal starting to come round?

As mentioned above, Lionel Messi’s brilliance set up Aleix Vidal to provide Luis Suarez with the game’s opening assist. There was nothing simple about the cross that Vidal had to deliver, and he placed it right on Suarez’s forehead. Vidal impressed throughout the match and his pace now seems to be paired with more skill and a better knowledge of the Barcelona system.

Barcelona v Espanyol - Spanish Copa del Rey
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Is Valverde Barcelona’s greatest tactician as manager?

Week in and week out, Valverde continues to field a rotated starting XI that gives its best. Giving Vidal the start in the Copa del Rey was something he was rewarded for with a superb game from Vidal. He continues to put Barcelona in the best position to win each respective game and challenge for all trophies this year. Valverde’s substitutions also influenced the match greatly with the introductions of Paulinho and Coutinho providing Barcelona with greater depth defensively and a more potent attack going forward.

2018 Copa Del Rey Football Espanyol v FC Barcelona Jan 17th
Photo by Pedro Salado/Action Plus via Getty Images

Here come Barca…

With Real Madrid and Atletico already knocked out, Barcelona remain the favorite out of the four teams left that include Valencia, Sevilla, and Leganes. While all three teams are certainly formidable opponents and provide their own challenges, Barcelona’s dominance so far this season should provide a stable platform for the Blaugranes to come into the game with confidence. Barcelona have won the competition a record 29 times and the road to trophy number 30 in the Copa del Rey was made a lot easier after this past knockout stage! Visca Barca

Ernesto Valverde proving to be Barcelona’s best signing of the summer

The coach has overseen a brilliant start

At the beginning of the season and again now, much was made of Barcelona’s summer signings. With a January transfer window that has yielded Philippe Coutinho and Yerry Mina, Barcelona will look to integrate them into the squad slowly but confidently.

Over the summer, the departure of Neymar looked like the end of an era, but started off a new Barcelona cycle within a 4-4-2 formation and a much more cohesive unit. The main cause of the current cohesion in the squad, paired with their defensive prowess and offensive creativity might be Barcelona’s stealthiest summer acquisition in a while… Ernesto Valverde.

Real Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga
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When Valverde inherited the team, it seemed as though the season was doomed from the start with two difficult defeats in the Spanish Super Cup to Real Madrid. Barcelona seemed to be reeling, but their shining light stepped up to the plate.

Utilizing his tactical knowledge of footballing formations and how to use his best players, Valverde began to switch from the traditional 4-3-3 formation into the 4-4-2. Making this decision was certainly questioned, especially after some early season draws.

In addition, Valverde placed his trust in a man that many in Barcelona didn’t, Paulinho. Suddenly, it became clear that this Barcelona side were no longer a team completely reliant upon its front two of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. If the two were struggling, you better believe that the defense was making life difficult for the opponent as well. With his integration of new signings and a formation switch, Valverde remodelled the side and Barcelona have continued their dominance in both Spain and Europe.

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Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images

Moving forward, Valverde’s side is undefeated in the league and the manager just broke Tito Vilanova’s record of 19 games unbeaten in a La Liga season. While pundits and fans haven’t been quick to applaud Valverde’s efforts so far this season, they must start taking notice.

With the January transfer window soon coming to a close, Barcelona have announced two exciting signings, in Coutinho and Mina. With a commanding 11 point lead over Atletico Madrid and a 19 point lead over Real Madrid, Valverde has the opportunity to ease both players into games that do not come with a lot of pressure.

He has positioned the squad to compete for three trophies this year and improved Barcelona’s depth significantly to the point where five or six spots in the lineup are under constant competition.

New Barcelona Signing Philippe Coutinho Unveiled
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Looking ahead, Barcelona face Espanyol in the second leg of their Copa del Rey fixture and if Valverde can overturn the 1-0 aggregate score, Barcelona will be in pole position to win the trophy. With Real Madrid losing to minnows Leganes and Atletico handily beaten by Sevilla, Barcelona are surely favorites if they continue to the next round.

Valverde has been demonstrating his tactical and positional prowess throughout the year. What started as a season without hope, has suddenly become a season where fans are beginning to think of a treble.

While Barcelona’s signings have been great this year, we must give credit where credit is due. And that credit is that the best signing of the off-season was not a player, but the manager himself. Visca Barca

Coutinho, Dembele & Mina – Barcelona’s future is taking shape

As Barcelona continue their amazing unbeaten start to the season, it is clear the club is not caught up in their successes of the present and looking to the future as well. One of the main issues that has consistently been brought up for the past couple of years is the issue of the ageing squad. This year, while consistently fielding a strong squad, Barcelona have begun to look toward the future.

It started with two strong signings over the summer in Ousmane Dembele and Nelson Semedo. Dembele, at only 20 years of age is ready to mark his spot in this team.

While he was out for several months due to injury, Barcelona’s lead in La Liga proves a perfect platform for Dembele to ease into the team with minimal pressure. Not only does this minimize Dembele’s need to prove himself to fans and pundits, but also allows him to play his natural, free flowing game. Attacking the opposition’s players and linking up with other team-mates were the reasons for his arrival and his best is yet to come.

FC Barcelona v Celta de Vigo - Spanish Copa del Rey
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The other young summer signing is Semedo. At 24 years of age, the young Portuguese right-back has put in stellar performances when called on and made on impression on all Blaugranes.

With Jordi Alba performing exceptionally on the left flank, Semedo seems like the long-term option at right back, a replacement to the dearly missed Dani Alves.

With these two signings, Barcelona addressed two areas of the squad and improved on one of their main weaknesses.

Moving forward, in the past week, Barcelona announced the signing Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool.

The Brazilian maestro has been deemed as the natural heir to Andres Iniesta and has proven his quality for Liverpool the past three seasons. Not only have Barcelona improved the depth and quality of their squad with the signing of Coutinho, but also their age.

At only 25 years, Coutinho can become a future anchor along with Dembele, Samuel Umtiti, and Semedo that Barcelona can build their team around.

New Barcelona Signing Philippe Coutinho Unveiled
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And then there’s Mina,the latest arrival who turned 23 in September and is the newest addition to the Barcelona defence, and potentially Samuel Umtiti’s long-term centre-back partner.

While nobody wants to admit that the day will come where Messi, Iniesta, Suarez, and Pique no longer influence games as much as they used to, growing old is something that no player can escape.

While that day will come eventually, Barcelona fans can rest assured that the board has not only recognized that fact, but have begun to solve the problem with their recent signings. If the trend continues, not only will Barcelona excel now, but continue their glory years in the future. Visca Barca!

El Clasico 2017: Barcelona can inflict huge blow on Real Madrid with victory at the Bernabeu

A win would mean a 14 point lead over their rivals

As Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the world prepare for El Clasico, there is much more at play in this season’s first Clasico than many believe. In the previous week, even Lionel Messi came out and stated that beating Madrid would be a fantastic Christmas present. As we look at the Clasico, a couple of things stick out.

Firstly, over the weekend Barcelona eased to a 4-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna; a game in which Luis Suarez and Paulinho proved the difference with two goals apiece.

During this time, Real Madrid had to travel to Abu Dhabi and participate in the Club World Cup. Their first games, a tough win on December 13th proved a lot more challenging than many expected.

Al Jazira v Real Madrid CF - FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017
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Continuing on, their next match was played on the 16th and was also a game that Madrid only came out winning 1-0. Two matches in three days is something that even extremely well conditioned players have trouble with. Pair those hectic three days with the added toll of flying from Spain to the UAE and it is clear that this Barcelona team is more well rested and prepared for El Clasico. Hopefully, that difference in games played and mileage travelled is something that Barcelona can capitalize on.

Secondly, throughout the entire history of La Liga, Real Madrid has not been able to come back and claim the title after being eight points down. Currently, the Blaugranes sit at the top of the league with 42 points and Real Madrid in fourth place with 31 points and a game in hand.

If Barcelona are able to exploit Madrid’s poor start to the season in the league and their tired legs, Barcelona will claim a 14 point advantage in the league before Christmas.

Barcelona v Deportivo La Coruna - La Liga
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In doing so, Barcelona’s eternal rival will be at a place in their campaign that makes winning La Liga extremely difficult. Additionally, while Barcelona certainly cannot take their foot off the pedal in the coming months; fighting for first place in La Liga against Atletico Madrid and Valencia may be a much less daunting task.

While both Atletico and Valencia have started wonderfully in La Liga, neither possess the quality of Madrid; and being able to knock them back 14 points so early in the campaign would be something to be extremely proud of and a massive confidence boost.

The world is buzzing in anticipation of El Clasico. While the Premier League might boast the most competitive league, El Clasico fields two teams with a history as deep as can be in the footballing world.

The aggression between these two might have sizzled down since the years of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, but make no mistake; when these world class players put on their respective clubs’ shirt, a form of animosity is there.

Come Saturday, if Barcelona prevail over their rivals…the title will move a little closer and a lot further away for Madrid. Visca Barca!

Barcelona’s youth: Where are they Valverde?

Not at Camp Nou on Tuesday that’s for sure

As Barcelona prepare to face Sporting CP, Ernesto Valverde can take great pleasure in knowing that his side have already sealed first place in the group.

Not only does this have implications in the round of 16 draw, where Barcelona will have a higher likelihood of drawing a side that is not top tier, but also in their last game against Sporting.

While maintaining an unbeaten start to the season would be ideal, the game provided an unlikely opportunity to trust a couple of B team players on a grand stage.

However, although the opportunity was there, Ernesto Valverde instead has not picked any B-team youngsters in his squad, a baffling decision.

Over the past several years, the gap between earning a call-up into the first team has been thrown into the spotlight. It was only three years ago that Tito Vilanova fielded a squad that featured a starting 11 all from La Masia. Now though, Barcelona’s approach to promoting youngsters from La Masia and Barcelona B has seemed to shift.

One of the most talented players currently playing for Barcelona B is 19-year-old Carles Aleñá. The talented midfielder made his first team debut on November 30th, 2016 scoring in the Copa del Rey draw against Hercules that finished 1-1.

Born in Barcelona and raised in La Masia since the age of seven, Aleñá is the perfect example of a player yearning for the opportunity to earn more minutes for the first team, especially at Champions League level.

With nothing to truly play for, the question is why Valverde didn’t even include him in the squad? While the #10 has a sizeable transfer clause, Barcelona fans will be quick to rue the way Thiago Alcântara left the club because of a lack of first team minutes.

Malaga CF v FC Barcelona - Liga BBVA
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While the current midfielders are also deserving of minutes, as a manager, it is imperative that youth players are showed that if they continue to perform well, a call up to the first team is certainly possible.

Another young player looking for an opportunity to prove himself on a larger stage is defensive midfielder Oriol Busquets.

Busquets was born in Catalonia and was granted entrance into La Masia at the young age of eight. After moving up the ranks and consistently proving himself, Busquets made his first team debut just last week against Real Murcia in a 5-0 win.

Just like his namesake Sergio, Oriol has proven to be a capable defensive midfielder and being only 18, would certainly bask in the achievement of being granted an opportunity on the Champions League stage.

One thing that has been learned over previous seasons is that in this current age of football, young players are more likely than ever to leave as seen by the likes of Jordi Mboula, Eric Garcia, and even Lee Seung-woo.

Anderlecht v Barcelona - UEFA Youth League
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Players, especially younger ones are desperate to prove themselves and earn more minutes. In order for Valverde’s time as manager to be considered a success, his handling and development of youth team players will certainly be discussed.

During the golden years of Barcelona’s reign over La Liga and Europe, the players raised in La Masia were integral such as Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Iniesta, Xavi, and Busquets.

While most of those players remain, it is important to think about the future and allow the young players who deserve a chance, an opportunity to prove their talents under the light of the Nou Camp and Europe. Visca Barca

How Barcelona are evolving under Ernesto Valverde

The style may be lacking but the results are impressive

Since 2008, world football has continuously evolved. A new generation of players has developed and adapted to the world stage, along with that a new generation of coaches and systems.

However, one thing had remained mostly consistent up until this year. Barcelona’s infamous 4-3-3 formation, a system engrained in the academy and up until recently, the first team.

Yet even that system has been changed by respective coaches of the first team. From Pep Guardiola to Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona similar to everyone else has evolved multiple times.

In 2008, Pep Guardiola assembled a side that began to resemble a team that could contend for any trophy in the world. By 2009, that same team had evolved into precisely that, winning a record six trophies in one year.

Barcelona Celebrates UEFA Champions League Victory
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The 4-3-3 of 2009 had no over-reliance on any one player and focused around a team of world-class talents committing to the extravagance of a system. From the goalkeeper to the front line, a message of tiki-taka was engrained and the team prospered magnificently.

Over the years, Guardiola’s system began to pivot slightly. Close observation shows how even in 2011, the team was starting to rely on the little Argentinian, Lionel Messi to push the system forward. By the end of Guardiola’s tenure, the over-reliance was clear, Messi scored over 80 goals in a calendar year; a wonderful feat, but damning of the team game.

After Guardiola’s departure, a time of unpredictability and subpar play followed, an era that most Barcelona fans do not like discussing. With the legendary Tito Vilanova at the helm, Barcelona played beautiful football but were simply not getting the results. And then, a time that any Barcelona fan would describe as miserable, with Tata Martino at the helm. While Martino remained committed to the system, his variations on personnel and his ability to motivate the squad were left waning, and ultimately disappointing.

Which leads us to first large variation seen in the system under Luis Enrique. What differentiated Enrique from his predecessors was the pure talent found in his front line.

Due to the aging midfield Enrique inherited, with Xavi and Andres Iniesta beginning to influence matches less, Enrique decided to pivot once again. Instead of focusing mainly on possession, Enrique challenged his team to move the ball forward to the front line as quickly as possible; a front line that contained Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.

In his initial season, opponents found this pivot almost impossible to defend. Look no further than Barcelona’s 3-0 demolition of Bayern at the Camp Nou. That season, Enrique led Barcelona to their second treble ever and invigorated the side. After that first season though, the pivot became less effective as teams started to challenge and overrun Barcelona in midfield, which leads us to the present day.

FC Barcelona v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Semi Final
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While Ernesto Valverde began the season with the patented formation, we have begun to see his tactical decisions implemented in games. With a 4-4-2 formation being used in recent matches, Barcelona have certainly been successful, but at a cost. Still riding an undefeated season, the mentality in big games has shifted. Unlike the 3-0 hammering versus Bayern, under Valverde, Barcelona’s big games this year has seen them approach these matches with a glass half empty.

As seen in the draws versus Atletico Madrid and Valencia, the current Barcelona team approach is tactically defensive. Under Guardiola and Enrique, the team strived forward and believed in winning games while on the attack, under Valverde that strategy has changed.

Still undefeated, Valverde cannot be criticized, but this Barcelona team is certainly different. Moving forward in the season, we must accept that glamor is not essential to a successful season, and that realization might lead to another treble.

Visca Barca.

Barcelona’s next great forward – who could replace Luis Suarez?

The striker will be a tough act to follow

As Barcelona head into the international break after a superb start to the season, one big questions lingers … what has gone wrong with Luis Suarez? And subsequently, how are Barcelona preparing for a future without him?

Several players have been heavily linked with Barca, most frequently Antoine Griezmann, ­­Paulo Dybala and Timo Werner but let’s not forget we also have Paco Alcacer. So, let’s take a look at the strengths, weaknesses, and overall prospects of each respective player.

We start off with the Atletico Madrid man, Antoine Griezmann. As he has shown on a large stage for over two years now, Griezmann has the quality necessary to be a Barcelona player. His ability to combine that quality with his pace and athleticism is something remarkable, and truly differentiates him from other strikers.

Where Griezmann adds to his value is his ability to play defense. As often expected from a Diego Simeone striker, scoring goals isn’t the only requirement, tracking back and putting pressure on the ball is necessary as well.

Atletico Madrid v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League
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These two things have also been staples of the “Barcelona” system over the past decade, and Griezmann would adjust very well. However, while extremely talented, there are two large problems with any potential move for Griezmann.

Firstly, while he has consistently played great for Atletico and France, but when put under pressure on the biggest stage, he has faltered. Look no further than the missed penalty in the Champions League final versus Real Madrid and his disappearing act against Portugal in the final of the 2016 European Championship.

Secondly, there is the fact that he might not share space well with Lionel Messi. Both players enjoy wandering and finding spaces in an opponent’s defense before picking up the ball.

How Griezmann would slide into this lineup without causing a disturbance to Messi is something that must be taken into account. While his quality is great, there is a psychological and systematic concern about Griezmann… is buying him worth the risk? A player with his talent and work ethic should be deserving of the risk, regardless of spacing concerns.

Secondly, a name that has continued to be mentioned in transfer rumors is Timo Werner. The RB Leipzig forward is more of a traditional forward who thrives in wonderfully finishing off his team’s attacks.

At only 21 years of age, Werner has consistently shown his quality for two years ending last year’s Bundesliga campaign with 21 goals and leading his side to a shock Champions League spot.

Chile v Germany: Final - FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017
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So far this year, Werner has added six goals and two assists. In addition, he has also proved his worth on the international stage for the German national team, claiming the Golden Boot at the 2017 Confederations Cup with three goals and two assists.

Clearly, Werner is a player who is developing at a fast pace and could be an extremely effective buy for Barcelona. One necessary point to bring up though is his age. Similar to many young players brought into Barcelona through the transfer market, it takes younger, less experienced players a longer time to settle into the Camp Nou. Patience is required and Werner would be wise to use Luis Suarez as a mentor if brought to Barca.

Another interesting option would be that of Paulo Dybala. Similar to Griezmann in his proven quality, Dybala is also extremely young considering his accomplishments. He has consistently led his Juventus side to amazing wins and Barcelona fans will surely remember his two goals in last season’s 3-0 Champions League quarter-final defeat in Turin.

Juventus v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: First Leg
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The biggest trepidation regarding Dybala is similar to that of Griezmann; his spacing. As observed in the current Argentina squad, Jorge Sampaoli has been unable to accommodate both Lionel Messi and Dybala in the same starting eleven because of their similarities. A solution could lie in bringing in Dybala 1-2 years from now and letting him learn from Messi before becoming a focal point of the team.

Last but not least, a striker with great potential is somebody already in the team, Paco Alcacer. Still only 24, he has already made a mark this year, evidenced with his two goals versus Sevilla in a 2-1 Barcelona win.

Barcelona v Sevilla - La Liga
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While Alcacer might not be grabbing headlines just yet, the talent is there and his confidence appears to be returning after a rough first year. While not considered a super star yet, if Alcacer continues developing, we could see a natural replacement for Suarez come from within the squad.

Ultimately, there is an abundance of striking talent in teams throughout Europe. For Barcelona to successfully pick a striker to replace Luis Suarez, they must take a player’s skill, age, and positional play into account.

Suarez will turn 31 in January and ensuring there is a forward to replace his goalscoring exploits when the time comes is critical to Barcelona’s future success. Whether we see that replacement in the next summer window or in two years, it is clear the time for planning is now. Visca Barca!

Who do you think should replace Luis Suarez at Barcelona when the time comes? Let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!