When Barcelona hired Tata Martino as the club’s new manager, the football world was a bit stunned. The South American came out of nowhere it seemed, and fans wondered just who would be replacing Tito Vilanova.
The football world has now had the chance to learn just who Martino is, but now a bigger question must be raised. Can Barcelona actually win La Liga under the Argentine tactician?
Does Martino, who has never before coached in Europe, have what it takes to lead one of the biggest football clubs on the planet? Can he continue the Catalan club’s success? Or will Barcelona now face the downturn of their glorious age?
In this article we will find out whether Barcelona can win La Liga under Tata Martino. Let’s take a look at everything the Argentine brings to the club, and just what La Blaugrana will do in this new era.
To begin with, it is very important to understand that Tata Martino will not change the philosophy of Barcelona. The club would not have hired a manager who planned to change the Blaugrana's winning formula.
However, fans must also understand that Martino will bring his own ideas and plans for the squad.
Martino is a student of former Athletic Club manager Marcelo Bielsa, who has always believed that the best defense is a very strong attack. That will absolutely be the case for Barcelona, who already incorporate the Tiki-Taka style of possession.
In an interview reported on the club’s official website, Martino was quoted as saying, “We will look to recover pressure in the offensive zone to win the ball back in attacking positions.”
Also reported on the club’s official website was a second quote by the new manager where Martino claimed, "We will try to recuperate some of the things we saw in the best version of Barça. Creating pressure and getting the ball back quickly are two of the things we really want to get the team doing again.”
As far as new concepts and ideas go, Martino is actually going to bring back something of old. Barcelona’s recent success has had a lot to do with the club’s high pressure, and Martino aims to bring that back.
But will bringing back the intensity to win the ball back be enough to win La Liga?
Coaching is much more than just telling players what to do. It also involves teaching those players about life, handling attitudes and making sure that the locker room is a positive place.
Tata Martino will have to deal with players he has never coached before, but more importantly, will be tasked with managing players who have won much more than he ever has.
The likes of Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Carles Puyol and Lionel Messi have all won more than most players ever will. Martino will now step into a locker room that is way over his head. The Argentine is not incapable of doing so, but will have to work fast to earn respect.
Martino will also have to handle the massive situation of managing both Lionel Messi and Neymar.
There is no telling what the arrival of Neymar will do to the club, but Barcelona still belongs to Messi. Martino will need to make sure both stars get the help they need, while also keeping a hold on their personalities.
Speaking to the press on the club's official website Martino stated, "As coaches we have always tried to get close to the players. We are very open and we like to listen to the players’ suggestions. I think that forms a part of the way we all grow, especially as a team.”
The Argentine is known as being a strong man manager and he will absolutely have to do just that if Barcelona wants to win the league.
Have no doubt about it: Tata Martino is stepping into a club that is not perfect. Barcelona have issues to address and how Martino handles those problems could decide the club’s fate this season.
The most glaring issue that must receive attention is Barcelona’s defense.
La Blaugrana is in serious need of a new defender and Martino must provide one. The summer transfer window is almost over and Barcelona is running out of time to bring in a new defender.
There also exists the issue of the future of the club, as Xavi and Carles Puyol are nearing the end of their respective careers—as well as keeper Victor Valdes who remains adamant that this will be his final season at the Catalan club.
Martino is not just stepping into a role that is already in perfect condition. The new Barcelona manager has to make some changes and will need to make some difficult decisions. If he does not, then it will be hard to imagine Barcelona winning La Liga this season.
One of the most difficult trials that Barcelona will face this season will be out of Tata Martino’s hands. La Liga may still be a two-horse race, but Real Madrid will be a tough opponent to beat.
Real Madrid have made several big moves under new manager Carlo Ancelotti and will prove a difficult opposition for Tata Martino and Barcelona.
So far, Los Blancos have strengthened the midfield with the purchases of both Isco and Asier Illarramendi while also upgrading the defense with the return of Daniel Carvajal. What’s more is that the club may not be finished yet.
According to reports from the Daily Mail, Real Madrid continues to put pressure on Tottenham over the purchase of Gareth Bale. If the Welsh star were to make the switch to the Santiago Bernabéu, Real Madrid would be further thrust into the driver’s seat for the coming season.
When looking at the battle for La Liga supremacy it all comes down to Barcelona and Real Madrid. Martino may actually have what it takes to be a successful manager for La Blaugrana, but can he topple the growing strength of Los Blancos?
The question remains: With all the factors going into account, can Barcelona actually win La Liga with Tata Martino at the helm?
The simple answer to the question is yes. Barcelona are still one of the strongest clubs in Europe and Martino will bring some fresh dynamics to the squad.
La Liga has not been very competitive at the top of the table for several years now, and La Blaugrana only have one true opponent who will battle to win the league. Anything is possible in football, and it is very hard to bet against a club like Barcelona.
However, though it is possible for Barcelona to win La Liga, it will also be very difficult.
Real Madrid have made significant strides to strengthen the squad and are right now arguably the best side in Spain, maybe even the world. Barcelona will have to overcome Los Blancos to retain their title as champions, but doing so will be no easy matter.
Fans should expect Barcelona to be successful under Tata Martino. The Argentine will bring a lot to the Catalan club, however, despite how good Barcelona will be, one can never guarantee silverware.
Have your say. Can Barcelona win La Liga? Just how successful can the club be under Tata Martino? Leave your thoughts and comments below.
Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on Barcelona and all Spanish football.