Line-ups

Is this now Barcelona's best starting XI?

Ronald Koeman may have unlocked his new ideal system for the players he has available to him

 
8:00am on Wednesday 21st October 2020
By
Paul Macdonald

Barcelona's excellent attacking display against Ferencvaros on Tuesday night may have opened Ronald Koeman's imagination into what an exciting attacking unit he may be able to field.

Antoine Griezmann has often felt like a square peg in a round hole in this team alongside Lionel Messi and his absence from the team breathed new life into this Barcelona formation.

GK & DEFENCE

Neto has deputised well in Marc-Andre Ter Stegen's absence through injury but the German is the obvious No.1 and his new contract, signed just yesterday, will see him hold onto the jersey for some time yet.

Sergino Dest has been playing at left-back due to Jordi Alba's injury, but he will revert to the right when Alba is fit again. Inside, Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet are the undisputed first-choice central defensive partnership.

MIDFIELD DOUBLE PIVOT

It's becoming abundantly clear what Sergio Busquets will see less minutes this season and though he will be a useful asset, he will not be the omnipresent force of this team like he has been over the last decade.

Frenkie de Jong will play every game that is available. After a difficult first season he is really beginning to exert his influence over the side and has the full trust of Koeman. But Miralem Pjanic seems a more natural placement next to him rather than Busquets. The sample size is small - Pjanic has been offered precious few minutes so far - but Pjanic plus FDJ is starting to look like the ideal pairing.

The only down side for Barca purists is the seeming freezing out of Riqui Puig, a player that many had high hopes for. It's difficult to see where even basic minutes will come from this season and it doesn't look like this situation will be changing any time soon.

Barcelona: Playing Squad, Player Ratings, Player Stats

ATTACK

Koeman is still utilising a 4-2-3-1 though the front four is extremely fluid, mainly because Messi is allowed to wander wherever he likes.

But with Griezmann, and by extension current No. 10 Philippe Coutinho, occupying roughly the same areas and trying to do the same things, what Barcelona really need is natural width. It hasn't been a problem on the left, with Ansu Fati enjoying remaining on his side, with Ousmane Dembele doing so too, although to a lesser degree.

But Trincao is a natural wide man on the right and this opens up the pitch and space for Messi to operate, space that has been lacking for him at times this season. And it's not just that - Trincao has real, genuine talent. He has much to work on from a production and decision-making perspective but the raw attributes are there, so he ticks both boxes.

And if we call Messi the falsest of false No. 9's, that makes Philippe Coutinho the de-facto No. 10 behind him. He will probably remain there for now, but he will know that Pedri is coming up fast.

The 17-year-old was playing for Las Palmas last season and cost Barca just £4m but he already looks good enough for this level. He impressed versus Getafe at the weekend and marked his Champions League debut with a goal. He will be eased in, gently, but credit must go to Koeman for recognising his potential, particularly with the talent theoretically ahead of him.

Barcelona 20/21 - Football tactics and formations

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