Barcelona 2016-17 season preview: fresh strength in depth key to success

Barcelona fans

Barcelona will be looking to rediscover their foothold in the Champions League whilst prevailing La Liga champions for the third year in a row.

Football Soccer - Barcelona v Sevilla - Spanish SuperCup second leg - Camp Nou stadium

Barcelona have already detected a trophy-winning mentality this campaign, lifting the Spanish Super Cup after thrashing Sevilla 5-0 on aggregate on Wednesday night.

Manager Luis Enrique will be hoping his eighth piece of silverware in just his third season as boss can act as a step toward a defence to their La Liga title and a massive improvement in the Champions League.

If that is to happen, the tweak in the squad could prove perfect.

The defence has seen the most changes. The Catalans lost one of their most influential figures over the last decade through Dani Alves’ transfer to Juventus and it will be interesting to see how the club responds to the exit.

Soccer player Andre Gomes poses next to a FC Barcelona's giant logo at their offices in Barcelona

Marc Batra, Adriano and Martin Montoya all left to find first team football. And two of France’s Euro 2016 squad in Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Digne have arrived.

The biggest signing is Andre Gomes, Valencia’s admirable playmaker. Bought for just over £40 million, the move is another indication of Barcelona’s focus in the market. Alongside Denis Suarez, all their new players are 22-years-old, energetic and full of promising potential.

However, they will likely find it hard to challenge for a place in this side. The champions won’t look too different, with the front six unsurprisingly expected to stay the same.

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, who played cup games last term, will take the number one spot as Claudio Bravo joins Manchester City and Sergi Roberto should be given a chance at right-back.

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique

Enrique will feel that this the best squad he’s managed since arriving in 2014. Yet the strength in depth won’t seem authentic till Jeremy Mathieu, Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and ter Stegen return from injury, and Neymar and Rafinha are unlikely to play a part in the opening few matches following the Olympic Games with Brazil.

The only real issue that remains is the lack of the fourth striker. Munir El Haddadi has impressed in pre-season, though the Valencia forward Paco Alcacer links continue.

Enrique was criticised for using the same team too often last campaign and how he rotates this time round will be vital to achieve success.

Picture Supplied by Action Images

Expectations certainly remain high. A 39-match unbeaten run, 141 goals in all competitions between the magical front three Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar as well as a nine point lead by March, Barcelona enjoyed the perfect season till their slump in spring.

It will be tough to better that domestically starting against Real Betis on Saturday, but if anyone can, they can.

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