Barcelona 2016-17 Season Grades: Luis Enrique and the Team

Here are the final season grades…

After going player by player, it’s time to look at the season one last time before turning the page. I have to say I’m glad we had so much debate and discussion about the grades. Ultimately trying to distill an entire season into one single letter is kind of impossible, and in any case, very subjective. The way the grades were given out was based on how close the players came to fulfilling expectations, and expectations in themselves are subjective.

I’m not claiming to be the final authority, but I do think hopefully when you read what I write it makes you think about things and realize other things you may have not thought about before. I’ve been reading a lot of the comments, and I really enjoy it, honestly. We get knowledgeable and respectful people here… and a few trolls, too, to spice it up, of course!

Before the last grades, here’s a rundown of the grades individual players got. You can click on the heading to read more.

Goalkeepers

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen: A

Jasper Cilliessen: B+

Jordi Masip: N/A

Claudio Bravo: N/A

Centerbacks

Gerard Pique: A

Samuel Umtiti: A

Javier Mascherano: B

Jeremy Mathieu: D

Marlon Santos: N/A

Fullbacks

Jordi Alba: C

Sergi Roberto: B-

Lucas Digne: B-

Aleix Vidal: Incomplete

Midfielders, Part One

Sergio Busquets: A-

Ivan Rakitic: B

Andre Gomes: D

Carles Aleñá: N/A

Midfielders, Part Two

Andres Iniesta: A-

Arda Turan: C-

Rafinha: B

Denis Suarez: B-

Forwards

Lionel Messi: A+

Luis Suarez: A-

Neymar: A

Paco Alcacer: C+

Munir El Haddadi: N/A

Now, the final grade.

Luis Enrique

Lucho finished his third and final season with a trophy celebration, but we all know there was bitter disappointment as Barcelona lost both the league and the Champions League. In my mind, Lucho gets credit for keeping Andres Iniesta rotated, but his inability to find a fourth midfielder in the rotation past Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic, and Sergio Busquets was a major failing. Partly that’s due to luck as Rafinha got injured, but after so much spent on Arda Turan and Andre Gomes, not to mention Denis Suarez, you’d think there’d be more to show for it. His faith in Jeremy Mathieu was a huge miss, too. Mathieu had his moments in a Barcelona shirt, but Lucho persisted with him in big games past the point where he was effective and Barça suffered greatly. He still made choices that were hard for supporters to understand, like his exclusion of Aleix Vidal early on. Equally, you could say that Lucho benching him is what made Vidal snap into form, so it depends on your POV.

Still, there’s thing the boss got right, not the least of which was a fairly resilient team that was able to beat Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 and Real Madrid 3-2 with a last gasp goal. His 3-4-3 formation was certainly a mixed bag, but it was bold and at least temporarily effective. His critics that said he couldn’t change it up tactically had to readjust their arguments.

Judging the Luis Enrique legacy as a whole would present a rosier picture, but clearly, this was his worst season, and we are talking only about this one. That said, we shouldn’t exaggerate, Barça just barely lost La Liga, with some unusually bad calls playing a part to an extent, and won the Copa del Rey. The biggest issue was two meltdowns away from home in the Champions League. Now, we all know, that’s just not good enough anymore for a super team.

Grade: B-