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5 Big Calls Luis Enrique Must Make for Barcelona This Season

Rik SharmaChief Writer IVJune 9, 2016

5 Big Calls Luis Enrique Must Make for Barcelona This Season

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    Luis Enrique has some tricky decisions ahead of him.
    Luis Enrique has some tricky decisions ahead of him.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    When a new manager comes in they always have big decisions to make and Luis Enrique is no different.

    After a poor showing on all fronts last season, Barcelona need a rapid improvement and quickly.

    Here we look at some of the tactical decisions and some of the selection dilemmas he will be mulling over in his mind.

Pique or Bartra... or Neither

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    Gerard Pique has been on a downswing for a while.
    Gerard Pique has been on a downswing for a while.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press/Associated Press

    Barcelona have bought two left-footed centre backs this summer in Thomas Vermaelen and Jeremy Mathieu.

    The former is out injured at the moment so the latter has strolled into the team and taken the left-sided spot in the middle of Barca's back four.

    Javier Mascherano started the season in the right centre-back role, but was sent off against Elche in the first match of their La Liga campaign.

    That means that either Marc Bartra or Gerard Pique, who was suspended for the first game, will step in alonside Mathieu against Villarreal on Sunday.

    Although Pique had been a fitness doubt, as alluded to by Spain manager Vicente del Bosque when he axed him from his latest squad on Friday, as per ESPN.co.uk, he has been training as normal with Barcelona.

    Which of the two Luis Enrique selects will be interesting.

    If it is Bartra, people will say it displays his commitment to youth players. If it is Pique, then perhaps Enrique thinks he can restore the defender, who was out of sorts last season and endured a miserable World Cup, to his best.

    This season the coach has to decide how much game-time he wants to give each of the two players.

    With Mascherano also an option, he could snub the call and keep the Argentine there, even though he prefers to play in midfield.

Messi's Role

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    Where will Messi play?
    Where will Messi play?Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Lionel Messi started the first game of the season in his regular position, up front.

    The World Cup Golden Ball winner scored two goals and was, by all accounts, up to his usual high standards.

    But when Luis Suarez returns from suspension at the end of October, it will be interesting to see if Enrique gives the Uruguayan the central spot and drops Messi deeper.

    Many believe that is a viable tactic which will give Barcelona more creativity in the midfield and a sharper attacking cut and thrust.

    However, if things are going swimmingly when Suarez does become eligible to play again, Enrique might not want to change the system up.

    Instead he might play his new forward on the right, a position which he is also comfortable in.

Use of Munir

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    Munir El Haddadi struck against Elche.
    Munir El Haddadi struck against Elche.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press/Associated Press

    Neymar's ankle injury and Luis Suarez's suspension opened the door to youngster Munir El Haddadi, and boy did he march through it.

    A fine performance and an extremely well-taken goal saw the 18-year-old make headlines against Elche and earn a call-up to the Spain U21 squad.

    But when the big guns return, it would only be natural to see the youngster drop down to the bench, or back to Barca B.

    However, Enrique may want to capitalise on his momentum and keep his career progressing along nicely.

    It might put a few noses out of joint, but playing Munir every now and then, particularly in the easier home matches, is something Enrique must be thinking about.

    While the likes of Suarez, Messi and Neymar love to rack up goals against inferior opponents, perhaps they might be better served by resting and allowing Munir a crack of the whip every now and again.

Double Pivot

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    Javier Mascherano may play in midfield.
    Javier Mascherano may play in midfield.David Ramos/Getty Images

    Playing with a double pivot is not the Barcelona way, but Enrique is surely tempted to try it in tough matches.

    With Javier Mascherano showing how good he is in midfield during the World Cup, a base of Sergio Busquets and the Argentine is formidable.

    Against Real Madrid it may be necessary to stem the tide of attacking talent at Carlo Ancelotti's disposal.

    Throwing Ivan Rakitic into the mix too would give Barcelona the feistiest and most combative central trio they have had in many years, since Yaya Toure was at the club.

    However, Andres Iniesta would then have to feature in an advanced position on the left, or not at all.

    If it was the former, then one of the big three up front would miss out, which seems unlikely.

    It's a good job Enrique is paid to make these decisions, rather than us.

Goalkeeping Situation

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    Ter Stegen is injured right now.
    Ter Stegen is injured right now.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    This is a three-way battle between Claudio Bravo, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Jordi Masip.

    The latter can surely be discounted by virtue of not starting the first game, even though Bravo made a poor mistake during pre-season.

    Ter Stegen is injured and slowly recovering, giving the Chilean time to establish himself as the No. 1 ahead of the German.

    But it would be no surprise if at some point Bravo made another mistake and Ter Stegen was put into the side.

    He is viewed as Barcelona's long-term keeper so Enrique will want to get him experience in the side.

    How he manages the situation and tries to keep all parties happy will be important though.

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