It is Matchday Two in the UEFA Champions League and SL Benfica welcome FC Barcelona and former Benfica manager Ronald Koeman, to the Estádio da Luz.
For this edition of A View from the Opposition, Próxima Jornada spoke to Omar Hawwash, the talented presenter, host of The Driven Shot podcast and creator of Blaugranagram. Omar, who frequently collaborates with FC Barcelona on their official platforms, gives an insight into what Benfica can expect from the Catalan side who are very much in the middle of a rebuild in a post-Messi era.
“I think Barcelona have started the season quite well all things considered. After the departure of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann, it’s been tough for the team to adjust. It’s been tough to find out who the new creator would be following Leo’s departure, for a short time it looked like it could be Griezmann but then he also left, rejoining Atlético de Madrid. It was also quite clear to many that Griezmann was just not able to take that role on. That role seems to have now fallen to Memphis Depay, he has shown a really bright side of his himself and is one of the players who has been trying to show leadership and take control of games. I think because of players like Memphis, Barça have started reasonably well. The results might not back it up but what people tend to forget is that Barça are very much in a rebuild, and a rebuild is one of those things that just cannot be rushed. There will be obstacles to overcome and tough times but for the most part, all things considered, it’s been a good start.”
“From an attacking standpoint, it is definitely Memphis and Philippe Coutinho who will be key to Barça getting three points in Lisbon. Ansu Fati could feature but personally, I don’t think he will start as he is only just returning from a near year-long layoff. He will feature more prominently in the second game against Benfica in Barcelona.”
Ansu Fati returned to action this weekend, playing his first match in over 300 days, he needed just ten minutes to score
Areas of Weakness
“I think the main point of weakness is not on one individual player, but more that Barcelona have a real lack of consistency in personnel at the back, particularly in the full back position. Last season, Júnior Firpo was the backup to Jordi Alba but then Firpo left for Leeds. Then it was Alba and Álex Balde, Balde did well but is now out and cannot play. On top of that, Alba is also out! The preferred option to replace Alba would be Sergiño Dest, but then you don’t have a natural right-back replacement for Dest. I think what we will see is Dest at left-back and Sergi Roberto at right-back. I think this inconsistency in personnel is definitely Barcelona’s biggest weakness.”
A big thanks to Omar for his time! He is a great content creator who you can follow on Twitter here. Be sure to check out his podcast called The Driven Shot and for more Barcelona news make sure to check out https://www.blaugranagram.com/