It’s been a traumatic summer at Barcelona. Lionel Messi, the greatest player in the history of the club if not the history of football, has departed for Paris Saint-Germain after 16 years of interstellar service. He leaves behind a team mired in uncertainty.
Barcelona get their La Liga campaign underway tomorrow evening, when they welcome Real Sociedad to Camp Nou. Ronald Koeman will be hoping to improve on last season, when Barcelona won the Copa del Rey but finished a disappointing third in La Liga. That’s not even mentioning the Champions League, when they were dumped out unceremoniously in the last 16 by PSG.
Atletico Madrid, last season’s champions, have strengthened over the summer while Real Madrid haven’t. Diego Simeone’s men are the team to beat. La Real finished fifth last season, a point clear of sixth-placed Real Betis but 15 behind fourth-placed Sevilla.
“I think in general [Messi’s departure is] painful for all Catalans,” Koeman said pre-match in comments carried by Mundo Deportivo. “I understand what Messi has done for this club and the type of player he is. We miss him given he’s such an important player in the history of Barcelona.
“But you don’t want to live in the past. These things happen. Players change clubs and young players come through. We have a future and I’m excited. I hope we have the help and enthusiasm of the Catalans. Messi is the past and you can’t live in the past, you have to live today and tomorrow and work hard to achieve what we want to achieve.”