What Barcelona Must Do Until Luis Suarez and Neymar Are Available to Play

Tre' Atkinson@@TreAtkinsonFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2014

NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 24:  Luis Suarez of Uruguay reacts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas on June 24, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Because of Luis Suarez's ban, it will be quite a while before Barcelona are able to gain from their high-profile transfer. Not only is the Uruguayan unable to play in games for a few months, he won't even be able to train with his teammates to learn the system.

That wouldn't be such a hard hit were it not for Neymar's back injury which will see the Brazilian miss the start of the season as well. Truth be told, it is going to be a difficult start to the new campaign for the Catalans.

With Messi the only option of the Barcelona trident that will available, Luis Enrique will have to take a few important steps to make sure the new campaign begins smoothly.

So just how can Barcelona ensure they don't suffer over the first few weeks of the season? Let's take a look.

Fix the defense now

Addressing the problems at the back needed to happen this summer regardless, but the loss of Luis Suarez and Neymar makes the matter more pressing. Without as much firepower up front, the Catalans cannot afford to let a lot of goals in.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

As of now, the future of Dani Alves needs to be sorted out and new center backs must be brought in. Carles Puyol has retired, and thus Gerard Pique and Marc Bartra are the only two true players in their position.

Of course, Javier Mascherano could continue to deputize as a center back, but it seems likely that won't happen. 

Bartra continues to show that he has the potential to become a world class defender, but he isn't quite there yet. The 23-year-old will be handed a lot of starts this season, but there needs to be more cover.

As of now, Pique is viewed as the leader of the Barca back line. The La Masia graduate tends to be error prone at times and, like Bartra, needs a bit of help to carry the load.

According to Sky Sports, Valencia continue to talk down rumors of Jeremy Mathieu joining the Catalans, but the move could still happen.

There are options out there for Barcelona, but they must act fast. The defense cannot afford to be questionable again when the new season starts, and Enrique has to address the matter as quickly as possible.

Help Lionel Messi carry the burden

Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Without Suarez and Neymar, Messi is going to shoulder more of the scoring load than ever before. Couple their absence with Alexis Sanchez's exit, and Messi could be virtually alone.

With only one solid scorer leading the attack, things won't be easy for La Blaugrana. However, not all hope is lost.

When the new season kicks off, Pedro and Gerard Deulofeu are going to be two of the most important players in the squad. They will have to step up to take pressure off of Messi, and in turn they could be fighting for the place in the starting XI.

Pedro is already accustomed to the Barcelona side and will likely do what he does best—join in the attack and pop up when able. Yet, the Spanish winger must be more of a threat if he is to give Messi another option.

At the same time, Deulofeu must prove that he does have a future at the Camp Nou. The 20-year-old just recently returned from loan at Everton and will bring valuable experience with him.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Neither Deulofeu or Pedro are really seen as deadly scorers, as both are more traditional wingers, but Barcelona will definitely be hoping to get even more out of them in the next few months.

Luckily, Rafinha and Ivan Rakitic do have the capability to provide a threat which could further take some of the pressure off.

Get used to the system as soon as possible

It is very clear that the Barcelona system is going to change a bit with Luis Enrique in charge. Though the beautiful tiki-taka of the past will not be gone, there will be many alterations.

After seeing Messi play more in the hole during his World Cup run with Argentina, there seems to be a feeling that he could do so for Barcelona with Neymar and Suarez playing in front of him. If that really is the case, Enrique has to implement the strategy quickly.

Any changes to the Barca system are going to be odd, purely because the players have been playing one way for so long. To ensure that alterations are successful, there can be no time wasted.

Neymar and Suarez will not be a part of things when the season starts, and that could lead to the temptation of keeping the strategy the same until they are available.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Although that does seem like a wise decision for the beginning of the year, it could lead to problems down the road. If Enrique tries to implement a new system after a few months when Suarez is finally available, the team will have to go through another learning period.

For the sake of clarity, Barcelona will have to choose if they really want to change things, or not. If they are serious about the changes, they have to come immediately, even with Suarez unavailable.

At this point, the Catalans cannot afford to sit back and wait on their new star. Neymar will be back rather quickly, but life will have to go on until that day comes.

It won't be an easy start to the season, that is for sure. But now Barcelona must do everything possible to make sure the transition, and wait for Suarez, go over as smoothly as possible.

Will Barcelona be alright without Neymar and Suarez at first? What changes should Luis Enrique make? Leave your thoughts and comments below!


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