Wednesday’s loss to Leganes came as a wake-up call that was necessary for several players. This was some of the worst football Barcelona has played in a long time and a lot of the blame has gone on Ernesto Valverde, and rightfully so.
The problems with this game are symptoms of a systemic issue. Several fans questioned why Barcelona sold Lucas Digne when they had no able back-up and the answer was an upcoming talent waiting to be handed his opportunity to impress--Miranda.
Yet, when push came to shove, Valverde used Thomas Vermaelen instead, who hasn’t played on the left-side of the defense in years. The decision to not sign a back-up for Gerard Pique was also heavily debated and that choice has come back to haunt the club as the Catalan’s poor form continues.
While many fans have had an issue with Malcom replacing Ousmane Dembele, it isn’t because the Frenchman cannot play on the left-side. If anything, he should continue playing there as his ability to use both feet allows him to play well on either flank.
Malcom, however, is at his best only when played on the right and that’s something the coach should have considered when making the substitution against Leganes.
Another poor decision that has gotten lost in the mix is Ernesto Valverde’s insistence on starting Sergi Roberto. Playing Roberto on the right side was never Luis Enrique’s choice.
The club had no right-back after Dani Alves left. In Valverde’s case, however, the coach had one of the most promising right-back prospects in Nelson Semedo and he benched him for nothing.
There are currently a number of things wrong with the squad’s planning and preparation for games and that’s something which cannot be fixed by simply replacing the coach.
Valverde’s team not only lacks the necessary profiles and back-ups, it also lacks a tactical approach to games. One may put the blame for the squad on the board but the loss is on the coach and his players.
It will take a lot more than a coaching change to bring Barcelona back to its old ways and it seems like that’s not going to happen anytime soon.