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La Liga 2018/19: How Barcelona would line-up this season

It almost feels surreal even before the first kick of the upcoming La Liga season. Current La Liga holders Barcelona will be without Andres Iniesta who left the club after 22 years. The midfielder was still at his influential best but you can’t begrudge him for not finishing his career at the club.

The other obvious absentee will be Cristiano Ronaldo. No opponent had tested Barcelona like Ronaldo did and despite all the bad blood between the Blaugrana and Real Madrid, Ronaldo has earned the respect of the Barcelona fans as one of the greatest opponents to have graced the Spanish league.

 

One team’s loss is another’s gain and without Ronaldo to stop them, Barcelona will fancy their chance of making it two leagues titles in as many seasons.

Ernesto Valverde’s side pretty much romped to the league title last season but in the end, they were upset they didn’t finish the season unbeaten. Ernesto Valverde’s side are looking in good shape before the new season, having signed a few good players.

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Transfers out: Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne, Gerard Deulofeu, Aleix Vidal, Andres Iniesta, Paulinho, Andre Gomes (On loan).

Transfers in: Malcom, Clement Lenglet, Arthur, Arturo Vidal.

How Barcelona might line up this season

A few fans were surprised when the Blaugrana decided to get rid of Yerry Mina. The Colombian had a pretty impressive World Cup and was set to play a role for Barcelona this season. But the signing of Clement Lenglet sort of showed that Barcelona didn’t really trust Mina. Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti are likely to be the first choice partnership at the back.

Lenglet will be given a few chances in the cup as Valverde is likely to integrate him slowly into the defensive setup. Pique recently retired from the national team and will be fitter, but he the player who needs to be replaced with the ling-term vision in mind. Lenglet started the game against Sevilla in the Supercup as Umtiti isn’t 100% fad Cup exploits, but once he is, expect him to start alongside Pique.

Jordi Alba and Nelson Semedo are expected to be the first choice fullbacks. Sergi Roberto can be used in the right-back role as well, so Barca have decent enough depth there.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen was unlucky not to get a World Cup starting berth with Germany and he’ll hope to impress again this season after a stellar campaign last year.

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The midfield will see new signing Arturo Vidal playing alongside Sergio Busquets. Paulinho’s departure means Vidal will play the role of the box to box midfielder. One thing Paulinho did really well was time his late runs into the box to perfection. Vidal is no slouch when it comes to the same, having done it with much aplomb for Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus and Bayern Munich.   

There have been a few worries that Vidal has lost a bit of pace as last season’s stats weren’t the best, but lest we forget, the Blaugrana have enough cover to keep Vidal in peak condition for the games having signed the dynamic midfielder Arthur from Gremio.

 

Ivan Rakitic is likely to complete the midfield three. The presence of Rakitic and Busquets will offer Barcelona the midfield control they crave for and Vidal can drop deep to add an extra number if they do get overcrowded.

The front three is likely to be Philippe Coutinho, Luis Suarez and of course, Lionel Messi. Because of the options Valverde has, he can decided to rotate. Malcom and Ousmane Dembele will provide the options on the wide areas. Malcom prefers playing on the right and Dembele is good enough to play anywhere in the front three really, so the depth is just incredible.

 

Coutinho will give Valverde to tweak his setup and play a four-man midfield because he has the ability to play in a slightly deeper role. Messi too can switch between a more central role or a deeper role, so the team looks pretty set in terms of depth, creativity and quality.

Last season, Messi scored 34 goals in the league and with the creativity on offer for the upcoming season, don’t rule out another goal-laden season for the Argentine.

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