New Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has already selected his preferred lineup ahead of the start of the new La Liga campaign.
The Dutch coach is expected to switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation and will make changes to the midfield and attack, according to Sport’s Jordi Gil. Koeman is searching for “greater defensive strength” but without losing “offensive fluidity.”
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Marc-Andre ter Stegen will remain the first-choice goalkeeper behind a backline of Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, and Jordi Alba. Koeman will then use a double pivot of Frenkie de Jong and Miralem Pjanic in front of the defense.
Captain Lionel Messi will operate further forward on the right flank, while fit-again Ousmane Dembele will be stationed on the opposite side. Antoine Griezmann will revert to a central role behind 17-year-old Ansu Fati.
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Koeman Offers First Impressions of Barcelona
Koeman will get the chance to see his side in action for the first time on Saturday in a pre-season friendly against Nastic. The Dutchman spoke to the club’s media ahead of the match about his first impressions of the team in training.
“It has been very positive, the players are working very well, there is a lot of intensity in training. We have become more physical and now we have to work more on tactics, but in all training sessions the players have shown a lot of encouragement, interest and intensity and that is very important because you play as you train. I am very happy with the work they have done these two weeks.
“Each player will play 45 minutes to find the intensity of the game, we are going to play two teams. We will look for the intensity of the game, how we want to play with the ball, the transition of the game, how we are going pressure our rivals, things to improve.”
Barcelona are due to play a second friendly four days later against local rivals Girona ahead of their first La Liga game of the season at the Camp Nou against Villarreal on September 26/27.
Ansu Fati Injury Blow
Koeman has been hit with an injury blow ahead of the friendly. Barcelona have confirmed that Fati has picked up a hip injury in training which has forced him on to the sidelines.
The news will be a blow to both player and manager. According to Deportes Cuatro, Koeman “has promised” the 17-year-old he will be his starting center-forward next season.
The teenager will be ably supported by Messi, Griezmann, and Dembele in the second line of attack. The trio “could even swap places” with Fati at times depending on how the game is developing.