Valverde's headache: finding a way to fill the Neymar gap at Barcelona

The Brazilian's departure has led to an unsettled attack at Camp Nou

Dembele's injury has not helped and Valverde's still looking for his best side

Suplir a Neymar se ha convertido en un rompecabezas para Valverde
Suplir a Neymar se ha convertido en un rompecabezas para Valverde | sport

Neymar's departure to Paris Saint-Germain was a genuine blow for Barcelona in the summer. Beyond losing one of their most dangerous players, Ernesto Valverde's Barça were forced to replan their tactics for the new season in attack. 

Esther Blasco


After the first 10 games of the new campaign, the coach has still not found a definitive alternative following Neymar's goodbye. In fact, he's still not repeated a system. The Ant played preseason with Gerard Deulofeu on the left. However, he didn't repeat that and moved Suarez wide, arriving at something closer to a 4-4-2. 

With the arrival of Ousmane Dembele, it looked like the headache was over. But th injury to the France international -- he is out until 2018 -- put Valverde on the back foot again. 

Here, SPORT take a look at the tactics implemented so far by the Barça coach as he looks to cover the loss of Neymar: 

FC Barcelona - Real Madrid 1-3 (13/8/2017 - Super CUP)

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Fc Barcelona - Real Madrid (Supercopa, ida) | Mónica Cano

Valverde went for a classic trident, formed by Deulofeu (replaced by Denis Suarez), Luis Suarez and Messi. Not the best game given Barça were beaten by a Madrid in good form. However, it served Valverde to realise that perhaps he wasn't looking for a player, but a different system. 

REAL MADRID - FC barcelona 2-0 (16/8/2017 - SUPER CUP)

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Real Madrid - FC Barcelona (Supercopa, vuelta) | Mónica Cano

In the second leg, the coach used the game as a trial, going for a 3-5-2, with Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto tasked with using the width to the sides of Suarez and Messi. 

FC BARCELONA - betis 2-0 (20/8/2017 - Liga, j1)

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FC Barcelona - Real Betis (Liga, J1) | Mónica Cano

Valverde bet on a 4-2-31, with Messi as a false nine and Paco Alcacer and Deulofeu flanking him. Sergi Roberto was in the No.10 role. 

alavEs - FC BARCELONA 0-2 (26/8/2017 - liga, j2)

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Alavés - FC Barcelona (Liga, J2) | Mónica Cano

Back with a trident. This time with Aleix Vidal on the right and Deulofeu on the left, although Denis and Alcacer were both brought on in the second half.

FC BARCELONA - espanyol 5-0 (9/9/2017 - Liga, j3)

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FC Barcelona - Espanyol (Liga, J3) | Mónica Cano

The derby served as Dembele's debut, but he was left on the bench. Valverde used Suarez on the left and put Deulofeu on the right, leaving Messi through the middle. Dembele came on in the second half for Deulofeu and it looked like Valverde had found his trident. 

FC BARCELONA - juventus 3-0 (12/9/2017 - champions, j1)

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FC Barcelona - Juventus (Champions League, J1) | Mónica Cano

Valverde chose to pick his preferred trident for the first time, the one that ended the derby: Suarez, Messi and Dembele. The French forward was replaced by Sergi roberto in the second half.

getafe - fc barcelona 1-2 (16/9/2017 - liga, j4)

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Getafe - FC Barcelona (Liga, J4)| Mónica Cano

Once again, Valverde stuck with Suarez, Messi and Dembele. However, disaster struck when Dembele was forced off injured, replaced by Deulofeu and taking the Barça coach back to square one.

FC BARCELONA - eibar 6-1 (19/9/2017 - liga, j5)

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FC Barcelona - Eibar (Liga, J5) | Mónica Cano

Agaisnt Eibar, Barça tried a new front three: Messi as false nine, accompanied by Denis Suarez and Deulofeu. Vidal came on for Deulofeu in the second half. 

girona - fc barcelona 0-3 (23/9/2017 - liga, j6)

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Girona - FC Barcelona (J6) | Mónica Cano

Against Girona at Montilivi, the Ant returned to Aleix Vidal on the right, picking him ahead of Deulofeu and Denis. Messi lined up through the middle, with Suarez to the left. 

sporting - FC BARCELONA 0-1 (27/9/2017 - champions, j2)

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Sporting - FC Barcelona (Champions, J2) | Mónica Cano

Finally, on Wednesday in Lisbon, Sergi Roberto was brought in from the start as a right forward to accompany Suarez and Messi. However, when defending, Barça's 4-3-3 would become a 4-4-2, with Roberto as a right midfielder and Suarez and Messi the front two.


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