BARCELONA has enjoyed a period of dominance in recent years, the peak of this being their treble in the 2014/2015 season. It has also been said that Barcelona has the best attacking trio in club football consisting of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar Jr- collectively known as MSN.
However, as we all know, this summer, Neymar Jr left Barcelona for Paris Saint Germain(PSG). Barcelona has since been trying to find replacements for Neymar Jr by linking Philippe Coutinho and Kylian Mbappe. They haven't seemed to be able to seal the deal yet.
A question that had been floating around is 'How will Barcelona adjust?'. If their embarrassing El Clasico loss is any indication of what is to come, then the answer is not well.
I am of the view that Neymar Jr's influence in Barcelona is greatly underestimated and this will start to prove true as the season progresses. Neymar Jr has made the difference between defeat and the three points many times. There is no way to be sure that if he was still there they would have come out victorious over their fierce rivals Real Madrid. However, Barcelona did look lacking and a shadow of their former selves. On the other hand, Real Madrid, the title holders, were simply more dominant and it's hard to see them not getting the better of Barcelona over the two legs.
I believe that the absence of Neymar Jr may not be the only problem but may show up their other problems. Barcelona, as of recently, has had issues with their defense and depth of their squad. Even when they were running rampant in 2014/2015, Barcelona's defense wasn't the greatest. Their strength was always up top. Once they were able to keep possession up top they wore out and ran circles around the other team' defense. This led to them scoring goals and winning games.
Their weakness was exposed when they lost possession and the other team had a go at their defense. Neymar Jr definitely is known for terrorising a defense and winning penalties, around 19 if you are keeping count. They will need help in maintaining the possession as well as a creative player to create chances. The next issue Barcelona has is lack of squad depth. Unlike Real Madrid, they can't just pick 11 players and be confident in winning a match. Their ideal 11 may not cut it for them much longer. Not only have they lost Neymar Jr in recent times but Andrés Iniesta, a powerhouse in their midfield, is aging and they will need a replacement for him. If anyone in their main team is injured they will struggle to find a replacement and that spells trouble.
The La Liga season begins this weekend and with a new coach and a slice of humble pie served to them from the El Clasico, we'll see how FC Barcelona fares this time around.