The Season 2019/20 did not treat the Blaugrana well. The Catalonian side not only faced the infamous humiliating defeat against Bayern in Lisbon but also failed to grab their hands on any silverware. The sacking of Quique Setien was imminent. And the news about Lionel Messi wanting to leave the club in the summer transfer window shook the club and became the most highlighted topic of the transfer session.
Amidst all the tension, a new manager at Barca, Ronald Koeman was appointed. He was handed the responsibility of shaping Barca’s future to reach new heights. So let’s find out the potential of the current Barcelona squad, whether it is directed towards the path of glory or does it reiterate the mistakes of previous years.
The story of Koeman’s overhaul so far…
Straightaway, Koeman went on to implement drastic changes in both squad management and on the training grounds.
The end result of the Messi saga favored Koeman’s plans to utilize him in his desired winning squad. With that situation at ease, Barcelona witnessed heavy transfers, which included the arrival of players like Pjanic, Coutinho and young players like Trincao, Sergino Dest and Pedri. There were also departures of some big names like Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, Semedo and Arthur; although that set in some sort of dismay between the Barca players and the team management.
Koeman’s interest in giving chance to young players in the squad like Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig, Trincao, Pedri, Sergino Dest and Ronald Araujo is igniting sparks of new opportunities for developing a young and energetic squad.
As for the experienced players in the club, their concerns were towards the intensity and standards of training sessions. One of Koeman’s priorities has been to get the team training as if their lives depended on it. The duration of the training session has been increased with changes in training with respect to each player.
Another trait which marks his presence is the disciplinary standards he maintains which was something slipping at Barcelona in recent years. Respect is also a key aspect of Koeman’s set up which according to him helps build team chemistry stronger.
Outcome of the changes
The positive results from the friendly matches Barca played show enthusiasm in the squad to produce the standard performances.
Players like Coutinho, Ansu Fati, Messi, De Jong and Lenglet are promising players in Koeman’s eyes this season. Koeman also brought in the formation change in the squad from the traditional 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1. He feels that this will remove the limitations of insufficient mobility and partial man-marking in the high press.
He believes in making the players play in their suitable positions to bring out the best performance during the matchdays. A change in the game style by the Blaugranas is also observed as it has shifted from a relatively slow-paced possession game to a faster-paced yet defensive game. Countinho and Ansu Fati are on a hot run with their inform performances.
With new and young players settling in the squad, only time will tell how it all fits in Koeman’s plan. Koeman is all set to sail in the new season up ahead.
To notice some players shine in the squad, with drastic changes in the training routine, as well as game style and formation, is quite promising for the Catalonians to rise again and conquer.
While this has been the notion from one side, seeing Griezmann playing at right-wing and Messi as a center-forward, is creating a negative role for Griezmann. His involvement in that position becomes challenging since his playing style and position do not match. Then there’s Ousmane Dembele. Considering his fitness and form, it might take some while to adjust him in the squad as well. Koeman is also keeping an eye on his improvement in creative ability by making him undergo extra training sessions.
When a new coach arrives, players often knuckle down and accept new methods; but it can change with the passing of time. It remains to be seen whether the Dutchman can keep up these standards throughout the season or not. It is now all up to the coach and the players to set in the right attitude and lead Barcelona to glory.