Given the high standards Barcelona have set for themselves over the last decade or so, lifting even a trophy a season isn’t considered a success to them anymore. Despite winning their 26th La Liga title last campaign, their inability to prove supremacy in Europe’s elite competition, the UEFA Champions League, has haunted them time and time again in recent years.
However, Barcelona could dominate Europe again this season as they have the advantage of a precious away goal in their two-legged Champions League Round of 16 tie against Napoli. Besides, the Catalan giants are currently sitting at the top of the La Liga table with a one-point lead over their arch-rivals Real Madrid before the season was suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite boasting one of the most fearsome squads in Europe, several Barcelona players have flattered to deceive this season. On the other hand, there have been a few consistent performers for the Spanish champions too.
Here are the five hits and flops from Barcelona’s 2019-20 season:
#5 Nélson Semedo (Flop):
Barcelona right-back Nélson Semedo is enduring one of the worst campaigns of his career as he has been benched by Sergi Roberto quite often. After being sidelined for more than a month back in November due to a muscle injury, the Barcelona defender has lacked rhythm in his game and has struggled to find his form.
Going forward, the Portuguese international, who has started only 11 games in La Liga this season, has looked out of ideas. While defending, Semedo has lacked agility and seemed to be out of position quite often.
Moreover, Quique Setien’s hybrid system of playing three at the back hasn’t helped him to regain his form. Semedo has to take responsibility for Barcelona’s leaky defensive structure as the Catalan giants have struggled to keep their back gate close throughout the campaign.
#4 Lionel Messi (Hit):
Often been considered as Barcelona’s standard-bearer, Lionel Messi once again finds himself amongst the list of top performers this season. Despite missing out on the early parts of the campaign due to a foot injury, Messi has scored the most number of goals, 24 in total, across all competitions for Barcelona. The 32-year-old is also the club’s leading assist provider (16).
One can argue with his position in the list, but given the standards Messi has set for himself, nobody can argue with the fact that he is yet to hit top gear. The best of Messi is expected to come as we head into the business end of the season.
#3 Samuel Umtiti (Flop):
Where is the old Samuel Umtiti? This is the question every Barcelona fan has been asking since the Frenchman suffered a knee injury at the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
Since then, the 26-year-old centre-back has missed 39 matches in total and has been sidelined for more than 180 days.
Just like last season, Umtiti has looked a shadow of himself in the present campaign too and has only appeared 16 times for the La Liga champions across all competitions. In addition, the left-footed defender has only managed to help Barcelona keep three clean sheets this season, despite having arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the form of Marc-André ter Stegen behind him.
#2 Marc-André ter Stegen (Hit):
As mentioned earlier, one of the best in his position at the moment, Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stagen has dethroned Lionel Messi from the top performer’s spot, such has been the German’s impact for the Catalan giants this season. The shot-stopper has played out of his skin throughout the season and has bailed Barcelona out from several embarrassing moments.
Ter Stegen has appeared in 34 matches across all competitions in the present campaign, keeping 11 clean sheets in the process. With a leaky defensive organization and faulty tactics to deal with, Ter Stagen is deservedly Barcelona’s top performer this season.
#1 Ousmane Dembélé (Flop):
Brought in to replace Neymar Jr in the summer of 2017-18, Ousmane Dembélé has been nothing but a subject of utter frustration till now. The Frenchman has failed miserably to make a name for himself at Barcelona and has spent more time on the sidelines than on the pitch.
The 22-year-old attacker has only played nine matches in all competitions for Barcelona this campaign, scoring only once in 490 odd minutes action. Since the start of the season, the former Dortmund winger has missed 286 days of football, failing to take part in 40 games for the Catalan giants so far in the ongoing 2019-20 campaign.