Barcelona May Play Second Fiddle To Real Madrid This Season Again

Filed under Spain

Neymar Jr

The summer was far from impressive for Barcelona; losing a star player and failing to sign quality players to bolster the squad.

The €222 million world-record sale of Neymar to PSG, as well as the inability of Barcelona to replace him, left a void in the Catalan’s squad. Their weakness in the final third means the Blaugrana may play catch-up to their arch-rivals, Real Madrid, for the second consecutive season.  Playing second-fiddle again won’t go down well with the Camp Nou crowd.

Barcelona are not a club used to losing their star players, especially a key member of the squad. But the loss of Neymar is huge. With Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, he formed the most frightening attack in world football.

However, Neymar left Barcelona to escape being in the shadow of Messi and fulfil ‘personal’ goals of winning the Balon d’Or. The impact of his departure will stay around longer than the manner of his exit.

In their first competitive games since the saga unfolded, Barcelona faced Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup. They were outplayed and humiliated in both legs, losing 5 – 1 on aggregate. This was despite the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo in the second leg.

Real Madrid are fast becoming the “new bride” of Spain and snatching the same European status from their greatest rivals. Zinedine Zidane’s reign reinvigorated the club, winning back-to-back Champions League and adding the La Liga title last season.

Barcelona appear weaker than Real, who have more depth in their squad. Despite winning their first two league games this season, the Blaugrana squad lacks the depth needed for a title challenge.

And key players aren’t getting younger. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Gerard Pique are all 30; Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano are both 33, while Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets are 29.

It’s a situation that has given rise to Messi considering his future at the club. Former midfield maestro Xavi questioned the quality of the squad and the adaptation of the players brought in to the club’s style of play.

Barcelona targeted Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund 20-year-old Ousmane Dembele as replacements for the departed Brazilian star. While they landed Dembele, Liverpool held onto Coutinho rejecting Barca bids for their talisman.

Although they still have Messi and Suarez in the attack, losing a player who contributed immensely in their final third, just a season after losing their league crown to Real Madrid, is devastating.

The Brazilian scored and assisted 185 goals in 186 games for Barcelona emphasizing his importance to the team that has now been weakened by his departure and must be revamped to avoid being dominated by Real Madrid.

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