Barcelona have struggled this season with manager Ernesto Valverde having to change his options in the team as they look forward to challenging for trophies. New signings, Antoine Griezmann, and Frenkie De Jong have endured mixed starts to the season.
There have been several blames towards the manager that he has lost the culture that made Barcelona the best team in Europe in the past decade. However, Valverde has had to work with the most unbalanced Barcelona squad in recent years.
The midfield, in particular, has been the major problem for Valverde. Pep Guardiola was able to bank on prime, Iniesta, Xavi and Busquet. The trio controlled games letting Lionel Messi focus solely on scoring goals.
Xavi was the creative passer, Iniesta the creative dribbler and Busquet the creative ball retention player. This was peak Barcelona that would pass teams to death with their ball movements and creativity. Cesc Fabregas and Thiago could also come from the bench and recreate a similar style like Xavi and Iniesta.
Luis Enrique met a fading Xavi and quickly got Rakitic to partner Iniesta and Busquet but crucially had Neymar in the attack.
This meant that there was less emphasis on retaining possession with the team looking to pick the front three of Messi, Suarez, and Neymar in dangerous positions.
Under Valverde, the team has become more reliant on Messi as Suarez has faded and Neymar is no more at the club. This means that the midfield has to come up with more creativity and goals to support the attack. This becomes more obvious when is not on the pitch which is partially why Valverde intends to use wide forwards to stretch the pitch.
The faster he gets a working midfield triumvirate the better for Barcelona and Frenkie de Jong, Arthur, and Busquet may be the solution.
Tags: Ernesto Valverde