Barca finished second in La Liga and the Copa del Rey and were knocked out in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
Based on the standards set by the Blaugrana in recent years, it was a season that would probably be considered below average. They will be looking to win either La Liga or the Champions League during the new season to re-establish their dominance.
This effort begins with a busy pre-season slate that will see the club travel around Europe to play a handful of matches over the course of a month, including a quick three-game stretch in early August.
By the end, Barcelona should be ready to roll.
2014 Barcelona Preseason Schedule
|Barcelona Summer Fixtures 2014|
|July 19||Recreativo Huelva||Nuevo Colombino|
|Aug. 2||Nice||Allianz Riviera|
|Aug. 6||Napoli||Stade de Geneve|
|Aug. 9||HJK Helsinki||Sonera Stadium|
|Aug. 18||Leon||Camp Nou|
Outlook for Summer Friendlies
One concern top clubs have during World Cup years is striking the right balance between resting players and getting them ready for the new campaign—there's less than a week between the tournament final and the start of Barcelona's pre-season.
Given the side still have players like Lionel Messi and Neymar battling for the title in Brazil, it's something new manager Luis Enrique will need to navigate.
It would be an even more pressing concern had Spain made another deep run.
The summer fixtures begin with a clash against Recreativo Huelva, hosts of the Colombino Trophy tournament. It's a piece of hardware Barcelona haven't captured in two previous tries while the Recre have won 11 times.
It also marks the first match for Enrique. After taking over the manager's post, he admitted the pressure will be present immediately in comments to FCBarcelona.com:
The only thing that matters here is the present, and Barca's present demands that the team win and it must be done attractively. We are going to take advantage of all of the time we have during the preseason to help the players. These players, the vast majority of them, will be in the World Cup and they'll come back to Barcelona in early August. With these conditions, we have to do our best to do well from the start, I'm aware of this.
Rather than its current first-team line-up, the opener will probably feature plenty of rising stars that Barcelona hope can develop into key assets in the years ahead.
That's likely to change when the European trip begins in early August. Enrique will probably get his full starting line-up into at least one of those matches to start building chemistry in game action, as opposed to training.
It appears progress is being made toward an agreement, according to Andy Hunter of The Guardian, who reports that meetings have been held between the sides and that Barcelona opened talks with an offer of around £70 million:
The fee falls short of Liverpool's initial £80m valuation, and has not been accepted, but both sides appear convinced a deal can be done after their face-to-face negotiations over the 27-year-old. Barcelona are believed to be willing to pay a straight cash sum for Suarez or to include Alexis Sanchez as a makeweight, as Liverpool had requested.
The report notes it's unclear if Sanchez wants to play for the Reds, which could cause a delay in negotiations while he decides about his future.
If the deal does eventually get completed, the preseason matches against Nice, Napoli and HJK Helsinki become even more important. Getting him on the pitch alongside Messi and Neymar before the season kicks off would speed the transition period.
Sky Sports Football provides a look at what Barca's strike force could look like:
The games also represent a chance to feature some of the other newcomers, including goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and midfielder Ivan Rakitic. Though they obviously wouldn't receive as much attention as Suarez (should he sign), but they are key pieces to the club's title chase.
Finally, the pre-season will come to a close as Barcelona return home to face off with Leon for the Joan Gamper Trophy. It's a final chance for some tinkering before matches begin to rise steadily in importance in the coming months.
The outlook for Barcelona is very promising, especially if they are able to add Suarez. Given his form last season, Messi's continued dominance and Neymar's strong play in the World Cup, the Barca attack would be a nightmare to defend.
Using the pre-season to get everybody on the same page while not overextending players is always a tricky task.
It will be the first test for Enrique, who can expect to remain under the microscope throughout his first season in charge at Camp Nou.
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