It has not been the easiest of introductions for the new Barcelona manager Quique Setién after taking over highly successful Ernesto Valverde less than three weeks ago.
First Barcelona lost Luis Suarez to injury and then Blaugrana had to give up the top spot of the La Liga to their arch-rivals Real Madrid, after succumbing to a humbling 2-0 defeat at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium. Many expected instant fireworks from Barcelona under the guidance of offensively oriented Setién, but the results have been nothing but a dud – until last night.
While it was “only” a cup game against minnows Leganes, Barcelona went out with most of their first option starters – and with the formation introduced by Valverde and previously shunned by Setién, 4-3-3. Leo Messi and Antoine Griezmann started up front with youngster Ansu Fati, Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal patrolled the midfield and defensive line of Jordi Alba, Clement Llenglet, Gerard Pique and Nelson Semedo completed a traditional line of four. And what a result it was.
It was Setién himself who said that the new tactical approach will take time to kick-in, even with the immensely talented squad. Reverting back to the winning one shows some character from the new manager, who saw their performance improve drastically from that of at Valencia, not to mention the one at Ibiza. Barcelona players seemed to be enjoying playing football again and it can only mean positive things moving onward.
Barcelona has not always performed with such determination against Leganes. Last season Barca won 1-2 and 3-1, but the season before Leganes took the spoils 2-1 at their home field. Those demons were now banished for good in a dominant 5-0 win, which saw Leo Messi finding his stride by scoring two goals and assisting on one and also got Antoine Griezmann involved more than in ages. Barcelona kept the possession for 74% of the game and finished with nine efforts on goal, keeping Leganes’ counter-attacks at bay and only allowing three shots on goal. Such dominance must’ve been thrilling for the frustrated Barcelona fans, but it’s still better to keep in mind – it was only Leganes in Copa del Rey.