Five tasks facing Quique Setien at Barcelona

Barca are top of La Liga and into the Champions League last 16, while they begin their tilt at the Copa del Rey against Ibiza next week.

Published: 15th January 2020 01:02 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th January 2020 01:02 PM   |  A+A-

Barcelona gaffer Quique Setien

Barcelona gaffer Quique Setien (Photo | AP)

By AFP

MADRID: Quique Setien is charged with leading Barcelona to glory on three fronts this season after being appointed as Ernesto Valverde's successor.

Barca are top of La Liga and into the Champions League last 16, while they begin their tilt at the Copa del Rey against Ibiza next week.

However, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said on Tuesday that Setien had been brought in to give the team a mid-season boost and there are several improvements to be made.

Here, AFP Sport looks at some of the challenges facing the new Camp Nou coach.

Tighten up the defence

Barcelona have already conceded 23 league goals, which is the same record as Real Valladolid in 14th and almost twice as many as both Real and Atletico Madrid. 

Their problem has been less about individual mistakes -- although there have been a few of those -- as a vulnerability to pace on the counter-attack. 

Teams have had success hitting Barca on the break and Sergio Busquets has too often been exposed in front of the back four. 

ALSO READ: Barcelona put faith in purist Quique Setien after sacking Ernesto Valverde

With Gerard Pique turning 33 next month and Samuel Umtiti still struggling for fitness, there may be a need for signings in the summer. 

In the meantime, Setien, who is not known for his defensive principles, must find a way to tighten the team up. 

Get the best out of Griezmann

After joining for 120 million euros ($135 million) from Atletico Madrid last summer, expectations for Griezmann were high, especially after the failed pursuit of Neymar. 

But the Frenchman has shown only glimpses of his best so far in a Barca shirt, in part because he is yet to be played consistently in his favourite position. 

To fit Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez into the front three, Valverde deployed Griezmann on the left and in that way, Setien may have had the problem solved for him. 

Suarez's four-month absence with a knee injury could mean Griezmann finally gets his wish to play down the middle.  

Banish ghosts of Rome and Anfield

Valverde and his team never seemed fully to recover from dramatic Champions League collapses against Roma and Liverpool in the last two seasons. 

At Anfield, Barcelona's players looked paralysed by the fear of a repeat of what had happened the year before and Pique admitted the memories quickly came rushing back. 

ALSO READ: Barcelona sack coach Ernesto Valverde and appoint Quique Setien as successor

Those weaknesses, including a susceptibility to conceding in streaks and a vulnerability under pressure, have often resurfaced this season. 

In November, Barca shipped three goals in seven second-half minutes to lose to Levante while the two late goals conceded against Atletico last Thursday proved the final straw for Valverde. 

Setien will have to finally cure his players of their mental block. 

Unleash a more attacking style

Setien is a purist and his appointment should come as a relief to those fans, and perhaps players, who had grown tired of stodgy performances under Valverde. 

Nostalgia for the free-flowing football played by Pep Guardiola's crop weighs heavy. 

ALSO READ: Meet Quique Setien, La Liga leader Barcelona's new manager

Yet the likes of Messi, Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Frenkie de Jong, Arthur Melo and Jordi Alba mean there is still no shortage of creative talent in the squad and Setien should enjoy matching them with his own attacking beliefs. 

"Players enjoy football much more with the ball at their feet than running after it," he said last year, which should be music to the ears of Barca's players. 

Give youngsters a chance

Setien has a reputation for giving youngsters an opportunity and he will be reunited with Junior Firpo, whom Barca bought after Setien helped him flourish at Betis. 

But Firpo struggled for opportunities under Valverde, who seemed reluctant to give some of La Masia's talents any consistent minutes in the first team. 

Ansu Fati has faded from view after exploding onto the scene at the start of the season while Riqui Puig's progress has stalled and Carles Alena and Juan Miranda have been sent out on loan. 

Making the first team at Barcelona is a formidable task but the potential would appear to be there in the academy, if Setien is brave enough to find it.

Stay up to date on all the latest Football news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp