Barcelona – Real Sociedad: No Messi? No Problem (4-2)
How do you replace a talisman at such short notice? This question has stumped many, but Ronald Koeman took one small step to surmounting the loss of the greatest of them all. As the collective took on the work of the individual, Barcelona put on a display to suggest there can be life after Lionel Messi.
Tactical analysis and match report by Emmanuel Adeyemi-Abere.
Twelve months on from the chaotic conclusion of the reign of Quique Setién, Barcelona seemed to be paving the way towards a brighter future. But far from being out of the woods, they have paid the dearest price for years of negligence, losing Lionel Messi to PSG on a free transfer. Such an abrupt exit threatens to leave the side in limbo, but the Catalans could ill afford to dwell on the incident.
Indeed, the offseason has been much more modest for their visitors. While they have been short of marquee incomings, Real Sociedad have not lost any players either, keeping hold of their best talent thus far in the transfer window. Off the back of a fifth placed finish, the club's best since 2013, the Basques now looked to climb towards the top four, and a result here would be a statement of intent.
Even though the switch to a 3-5-2 system during last season was a success, Ronald Koeman has used back four setups in the preseason. Hence, Catalan outfit lined up in a . . .