FC Barcelona's draw to Athletic Bilbao is not somewhat surprising as the games between these two has always been a cagey affairs. Athletic Bilbao League form - prior to the match played on Saturday - at home against the Blaugranes stands at 1W,1D,1L - one win, one draw and one loss - in their last three home La Liga games.
Ronald Koeman cannot be expected to win week in week out with the size of the squad he has now, with European commitment to come up from September, it may get more complicated than getting a solitary point. Modern football business requires any competing football club to staff every player position with very good options which is intended to provide adequate cover and increase Competitions for places. Barcelona knows this but with their financial situation, it will be difficult to bring in the right players in this summer transfer window.
Source: Barca Blaugranes
However, while Ronald Koeman available squad is considerably weaker in terms of size, his squad is very capable of winning matches provided he can cut out some mistakes and take decisions necessary to make his side a winning match.
Below are three decisions Ronald Koeman must take and make his side a winning squad:
1. Revert To His 4-2-3-1 formation
When Joan Laporta took over as President, there were rumours that Ronald Koeman will be relieved of his duties but after long period of consultation and evaluation, he decided to allow him continue his work. As a former Barcelona player, Koeman is well aware of the Club's traditional football philosophy, which hinges on 4-3-3 formation, something Laporta wants Ronald Koeman to continue with the current squad. But with no Ronaldinho or Messi, players who gave the formation mainstay, it is always going to take time until Barcelona gets running again.
With Samuel Eto, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi in the same line, Pep Guardiola started his Barcelona career in great fashion with the Barca famed 4-3-3 tactics from 2009 and would repeat another great season in 2010/2011 with Lionel Messi, Pedro and David Villa before departing in 2012. His former assistant, Late Tito Vilanova took over and delivered the league but Barca were thrashed by Barcelona home and away in the Champions League due to Barca's less energetic squad that could not match Bayern's team at peak strength. After Tito Vilanova left until his death in 2014, Gerardo Martino took over but results didn't improve with the available players. It was until Luis Enrique took over in 2014, with the addition of Luis Suarez, that Barcelona had a complete 4-3-3 footballing style that worked. After Neymar left in 2017, Ernesto Valverde had to change to his preferred 4-4-2 formation, and that got him trophies except for his Failure in the UCL.
Ronald Koeman's idea of Football hinges more on 4-2-3-1, with this formation he won with and without Lionel Messi and even delivered the Copel Drey in his first season. With Messi now gone, the idea of shifting to 4-3-3 from 4-2-3-1 would be to please Joan Laporta believe in the famed Barcelona system, and not necessary to implement his style of play into a new Barcelona side that needs new ideas to start winning without their former No.10.
2. Pedri is not Messi, he needs to be managed well.
If there is any successor to Lionel Messi in this current Barca squad in terms of creativity and visionary play, then it is Pedri Gonzalez. But he is still young at 18 and with the modern football becoming more rough and physically demanding than in the early 2000, young footballers needs to be protected by evaluating their strength limits while be cautious with their development. Ansu Fati was 16-years-old when he broke into Barcelona's first team in the 2019/20 season, and was continuously fielded both at the international level prior to the time he got injured last year November.
Source: Everything Barcelona
Pedri played almost all the matches with Spain at the EURO 2020, and would have been expected to be gradually introduced into first team actions but that didn't happen and now he is injured. It is important that Ronald Koeman takes a cautious approach with the young players at his disposal especially Pedri.
3. Miralem Pjanic Is good to be left behind
With FC Barcelona in such a dire financial situation to bring in proven performers, Miralem Pjanic remains a very reliable midfield mastero Ronald Koeman can count on. Sergio Busquests remains the only defensive midfielder in Koeman's squad and can deploy Miralem Pjanic as another defensive midfielder. Pjanic played as a defensive midfielder for Mauricio Sarri's 4-3-3 formation during his last season for Juventus. Last season, he played sparingly for Ronald Koeman who is not convinced of his role in his team. Perhaps, Ronald Koeman will have to watch his previous matches for the Turin giants and find the best way of integrating him into his midfield that needs options for rotation considering there are three major trophies they are fighting for.
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