10 Bold Predictions for Luis Enrique's Debut Season with Barcelona
The Luis Enrique era has begun at FC Barcelona and his debut season at the helm is about to kick off. There are many questions that must be answered, but the club firmly believes that the former Celta Vigo boss is the right man for the job.
Here are 10 bold predictions for the club during Enrique's debut season. While all of these predictions are possible, they are mostly very controversial and certainly bold. Keep in mind that this is football, and that means anything is possible.
Will they actually happen? You tell us! Get involved in the discussion in the comment section below!
Barcelona Miss Victor Valdes More Than They Expected
We begin our article with the prediction that Barcelona will miss Victor Valdes much more than the club could have ever expected.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo are the new Camp Nou 'keepers, but neither will be able to replace the Catalan. His familiarity with the club and leadership ability will be sorely missed, and Barcelona will be struggling to cope without him.
Barcelona worked quickly to bring in two quality 'keepers, but can you ever truly replace a club legend and leader? It certainly won’t be easy.
Luis Enrique Experiments with a Double Pivot Often
Next on our list, Luis Enrique will experiment quite a bit with a double pivot in his debut season.
After Javier Mascherano’s incredible World Cup showing, he deserves to be in the midfield on a regular basis. Yet, with Sergio Busquets holding a regular spot, it makes a lot of sense to play them together.
Barcelona has tinkered with a double pivot in the past, but now could be the perfect time to make it happen more often. The Catalan club has two of the best defensive midfielders in the world, and the back line could certainly use the coverage.
Xavi Plays Much More Than Should Be Needed
Xavi will still be wearing the Blaugrana shirt this season despite being 34 years old, but the bold prediction for this season is that he will be asked to play much more often than he should.
While Barcelona lost Cesc Fabregas this summer, the club was able to bring in Ivan Rakitic and Rafinha returned from his loan spell at Celta Vigo. Truthfully, there is no midfielder quite like Xavi, and Enrique will be asking him to orchestrate the center of the pitch regularly this year.
Can Barcelona handle another season of Xavi being overworked and asked to do too much? Fans will surely be hoping that this bold prediction doesn’t come true.
Gerard Pique Rediscovers His World-Class Form Beside Jeremy Mathieu
Gerard Pique was once regarded as one of the best central defenders in Europe. His partnership with Carles Puyol was unstoppable, but in recent years the Catalan has become an accident-prone liability.
This season, however, Pique will rediscover the incredible form he once had. Playing alongside a leader like Jeremy Mathieu will give the 27-year-old someone to look to for guidance, and the La Masia graduate will return to his best form.
The talent has always been there, but Pique is the type of player that needs guidance. Mathieu is a proven leader in the back line, but will it be enough?
Barcelona Finally Make a Winter Transfer Window Signing
After several years of not making a move in the January transfer window, Barcelona will finally be forced to bring someone in during the winter.
Luis Enrique has at his disposal a squad built of seasoned veterans, as well as young stars. However, a long season can take a lot out of a team, and injuries are very common in football. Somewhere along the way, La Blaugrana will realize that they need something else to give the squad an added push.
Possibly the defense continues to suffer and a new center-back will have to be purchased, or maybe a key player just isn’t cutting it. Barcelona’s history with the January transfer window is an odd one, but this season they break the trend of staying silent when it’s cold outside.
Alen Halilovic Will Be Promoted by February
Alen Halilovic is already on the cusp of the first team as I recently discussed in a previous article, and it is only a matter of time before his name is chanted at Camp Nou.
He will spend the beginning of the year learning the system and becoming comfortable, but his quality will be just too much to keep him at the reserve side. Halilovic will be promoted before February is over.
Though he would likely not see much playing time in the first team, what he would gain from training with the stars every day would be invaluable. The 18-year-old will catch Enrique’s eye quickly and he will be battling it out with Sergi Roberto well before the season is over.
Neymar Has Yet Another Underwhelming Season
After his high-profile move to Barcelona last summer, Neymar has yet to truly establish himself at Camp Nou. While he did have several awe-inspiring games for Barcelona last year, he has yet to deliver on his hype.
This season, it will be the same story. Neymar will continue to struggle to fit into the Barcelona season and will spend stretches of the year trying to find his comfort zone and consistency.
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez will be the stars of the show and Neymar will still be trying to keep up. It won’t have anything to do with his World Cup injury, but rather the simple fact that Neymar—who loves open space—will not be able to unleash his ability in a Barcelona side that thrives on compact and organized play.
Luis Enrique Tries a 3-4-3 at Least Twice This Season
During the last year of Pep Guardiola’s reign, as well as Tito Vilanova’s year in charge, Barcelona attempted to utilize a 3-4-3 formation on a few occasions. While the trial never really caught on, Luis Enrique will give it another try this season.
The addition of Jeremy Mathieu gives the back line more strength and leadership, as well as much needed pace. Enrique will see the chance to use three center-backs and get even more out of the midfield at the same time.
The 3-4-3 did not really work that well in the past, but perhaps with new tactics and players Enrique will be able to make it work.
Luis Suarez Scores More Goals Than Lionel Messi
Luis Suarez is one of the best players on the planet. Sure, he has some issues that need to be addressed, but no one can ignore his ability on the pitch.
That being said, Suarez will lead Barcelona in scoring this season, being the first to overtake Lionel Messi in a long time.
Messi could be playing in the hole this season behind Neymar and Suarez, meaning the club would be able to take advantage of his play-making skills, as well as of his ability to run with the ball in the middle of the pitch. With Messi potentially playing more of a creator role, Suarez will thrive up top, scoring more goals than anyone in Spain this year.
But don’t worry Cules, Messi will still score an insane amount of goals, only he will have a ton of assists to go with them.
Barcelona Win the Champions Leauge Trophy
Barcelona will win the Champions League this season. How’s that for a bold prediction? The club has signed several big names and tried to address weaknesses, while also hiring an energetic manager who is ready to usher in a new era at Camp Nou.
Led by Messi and Andres Iniesta, and additions like Suarez and Rakitic, the Catalans will once again reign supreme in Europe. The Blaugrana colors will adorn the Olympic Stadium where Barcelona will defeat none other than El Clasico rivals Real Madrid in the Champions League final of the century. Well, why not? These are bold predictions aren’t they?
How many of these bold predictions will actually come true? Can Luis Enrique usher in a new era of Barcelona dominance? Leave your thoughts and comments below!