Barcelona have started the season badly and there are various factors as to why. Here we highlight them:
Barcelona haven’t been the same since they were thrashed at Liverpool on May 7. Just like after Rome, Bartomeu opted to cauterise the wounds instead amputating limbs - not sacking Valverde. Instead he signed big names - De Jong, Griezmann and nearly Neymar. For now that’s not working.
The coach seems to have abandoned the hierarchy from previous years and instead is picking the team based on a meritocracy. That’s seen Rakitic and Busquets drop out at times, and Arturo Vidal disappear for the most part.
He has shown bravery in giving Ansu Fati and Carles Perez opportunities.
But at Granada we saw the worst of Valverde. The one who rotates based on the calendar.
He dismembered the midfield that works (Arthur, Busi, De Jong) and could not motivate his players to keep their guard up.
The former Betis player made an unforgivable error but Valverde’s decision to take him off at half-time was bad too. Cruyff would never have done that - it’s killing Firpo.
But Valverde did that and moved Semedo to the left, where he seems like a headless chicken.
In the middle of such misery is a green shoot, De Jong. The Dutchman is showing great signs but Valverde has to stop rotating him between interior and defensive midfield. He’s going to get dizzy. Valverde should pick what he wants. Meanwhile Alena is nowhere to be seen after the opener in Bilbao, his punishment for an underwhelming performance.
The French striker’s signing created a lot of noise because of what happened the year before. But even though he did well against Betis and Valencia, he’s still not living up to the price tag.
He works hard, that’s true, with Cholismo in his veins. Of course he still needs time with Messi and Suarez for the MSG attack to click, but for now he seems pushed out to the margins on the left flank.
His calf injury has set him back and he’s nowhere near his best version at the moment.
It’s clear that when he gets better, the team will improve hugely, but it’s worrying to see him so alone.
Disconnected from Griezmann and Suarez, it was notable how he looked for Ansu as his main associate.
A worry is his interview with SPORT in which he said that he wanted to play in a competitive team - and this is not that. It makes you worried that he might actually leave in June…
His outbreak has been a breath of fresh air. But at 16 you can’t ask for more from him than what he’s doing. Barca can’t convert him into their Vinicius Jr. You have to look after him and protect him so he keeps growing. He can be a crack in the future but we shouldn’t think he’s going to be one now.
It says little of Barca that a boy of his age can be the most dangerous thing about the team.