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.
Lenglet, De Jong and Gavi all fit for Barca’s LaLiga opener tonight pic.twitter.com/dX8KhUmG28
— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) August 15, 2021
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. Koeman’s squad for the season opener spoke to this youthful, leaner Barcelona, with the hope in Catalonia being that the likes of Memphis Depay and Antoine Griezmann can dovetail well with young guns like Pedri and Frenkie de Jong.