5 Reasons Why 2014/15 Will Be a Vintage Season for Barcelona
Barcelona begin their pre-season training on July 14.
Luis Enrique will finally get the chance to work with his players almost two months after signing on the dotted line at the behest of Andoni Zubizarreta, per CNN.com.
In what seems like the blink of an eye, we've gone from the last-day-of-the-season defeat to Atletico Madrid to the beginning of a new cycle at Barca.
Goodbye to a tired, stale-looking Tata Martino-led Blaugrana and hello to a side which will have the slate wiped clean and arguably be looking to impress the new man in charge.
Let's take a look at five reasons why next season could be a vintage one for the Catalans.
The hire of Luis Enrique is one of the main reasons why Barcelona can look forward to this season with interest.
Tata Martino was never accepted because he was an outsider, but "Lucho" has Blaugrana coursing through his veins and already appears to have the support of the membership of the club.
After a season of disappointment, Enrique will be charged with bringing back some Guardiola-style intensity. Guillem Balague noted for Sky Sports just what problems the manager inherits:
But there is not just one single thing wrong with Barcelona.
There is a lack of leadership on the bench, on the pitch and at the club so they are trying to find their feet, and what we are seeing is a team that is far too relaxed - they are a side without intensity and with few demands tactically and physically.
The players have been rotated but do not find themselves sharp and all that points to the methodology and training during the week.
We can go right back to his playing days to see what strength of character Enrique has—allowing his Real Madrid contract to wind down before joining their most hated rivals.
The returning Barcelona players cross him at their peril.
Strength in Depth
The strength in depth that Barcelona will possess will be markedly better than recent years.
Competition for places will be fierce and that can only benefit the side.
In goal particularly, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo will contest a battle royale for the chance to hold down the No. 1 spot.
The returning Rafinha Alcantara and Gerard Deulofeu provide high-quality options for Enrique, and in the latter's case, we may get to see him sooner rather than later thanks to Neymar's World Cup injury.
With the addition of another signing or two, the manager could well have the luxury of two players for every position without a significant loss of quality.
Javier Mascherano in Midfield
If you haven't paid too much attention to Javier Mascherano's performances in the World Cup, then you've missed seeing the Argentine at the very top of his game.
For at least two years now, the former Albiceleste captain has filled in at centre-back for Barca, with mixed fortunes.
Restored to a more natural defensive midfield position for his country, we get to see the best of "Masch."
Against Belgium and Holland in particular, the shifts that he put in against some extremely physical opponents were worthy of the man-of-the-match champagne.
His short- and long-range passing throughout was from the highest level, and it clearly identifies to Luis Enrique where best to employ the player.
Barcelona have generally lived and died by the 4-3-3 template.
The problem with the same is that the Catalans have become a little too predictable against certain other styles. A lack of tactical variation throughout much of last season is what lost the Blaugrana more points than was necessary.
Whilst Luis Enrique is certain to make use of the system that he himself excelled in, expect him to vary things depending on the opposition and personnel available to him at the time.
Tiki-taka isn't dead, but clearly there is a need to move away from playing pretty football when the circumstances dictate something different.
It doesn't mean that the ethos of the club has to be betrayed, it merely represents a sensible acknowledgment of tactical evolution.
Is Luis Suarez the most controversial signing in Barcelona's history? If he's not, then he's certainly somewhere close to it.
While his disciplinary problems can't be ignored, what he provides in a footballing sense far outweighs the negatives. Just ask Brendan Rodgers.
Yes, Barca still require a world-class central defender, and yes, the club could strengthen in other areas, too.
But the acquisition of Suarez is a game-changer.
A striker so absolutely bang in form that he can provide the perfect accompaniment to Neymar and Lionel Messi.
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