Barcelona remain one of the footballing powerhouses in Europe. The Catalan side may not be as strong as they once were, but consistently winning league titles or going close as well as two of their five Champions Leagues coming this decade shows that they are still up there at the top.
Another La Liga crown looks to be on its way this term, but it is in Europe where Barca have come up short of late. For the past three seasons they have had to watch El Clasico rivals Real Madrid lift the Champions League year on year, and that needs to change fast. There is a nice blend of youth and experience at the Nou Camp at the minute, and it’s up to you to take them all the way on Football Manager 2019.
RealSport gives you all you need to take charge of the Spanish giants on FM this year.
It won’t surprise you that both possession based and attacking football is required at Barcelona, with the Catalans providing the most attractive brand of football over the past decade or so. Not only that, you will need to develop players using the club’s youth system as you look to find the next Carles Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta or Lionel Messi.
Expectations are obviously high at the Camp Nou, with nothing less than winning the Spanish First Division acceptable in your first season. In the European Champions Cup you will be asked to reach the semi-final, with pushing your target up to the final giving you an extra £900,000 for the transfer budget. For the Spanish Cup, you will need to reach the final, with targeting a win granting you an extra £60,000.
Bearing in mind the need to play possession and attacking minded football at Barcelona, you should look to play their archetypal tiki-taka tactical style. Possible alternatives are control possession or vertical tiki-taka.
Barcelona have used a 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 this season, but who should look to alter this into a 4-2-3-1 wide on FM 2019. Our system has been tweaked in to a ‘4-2-3-1 DM wide asymmetric (MCL)’ with one defensive midfielder and one central midfielder.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen takes his spot in goal, with Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Jordi Alba in the back four.
Sergio Busquets operates in defensive midfield with Ivan Rakitic slightly further ahead and Philippe Coutinho in the number 10 role. Star man Lionel Messi is on the right wing with Ousmane Dembele on the left and Luis Suarez in attack.
On the bench go for Jasper Cillessen, Clement Lenglet, Nelson Semedo, Arturo Vidal, Arthur, Rafinha and Malcom.
Barcelona have some of the best stars in world football, but with one or two coming into the twilight of their careers, you may want to line up some younger stars to step up in the seasons to come.
Lionel Messi – CA 5 star (195), PA 5 star (199)
Where else to start than Lionel Messi. The Argentine is the best player in the world for many, having scored 591 goals in 674 games for Barcelona. Now aged 31, it remains to be seen how much longer Messi can go on for, but with GOAT rival Cristiano Ronaldo still going strong at 34, don’t expect the Argentine to slow down.
On FM, Messi has stats of 20 balance, 20 dribbling and 20 finishing to give him a 195 CA, which is only matched by Ronaldo. This has fallen slightly from his 199 potential, but is still sees him valued at £90 million and a crazy salary of £1.2 million a week.
Luis Suarez – CA 4 star (180), PA 4 star (188)
Luis Suarez shares the goal scoring with Messi, with the Uruguayan netting 173 times since joining from Barcelona in 2015. In that period, the 31-year-old has claimed three La Liga titles, four Copa del Reys and a Champions League, justifying his £65 million move from Liverpool back in 2014.
Suarez’s abilities on FM include 19 determination, 18 finishing and 17 technique to take him to a current ability rating of 180. This has dropped from a 188 PA, but with a £75 million value and £550,000 a week wage, he is one of the most valuable players in the world.
Philippe Coutinho – CA 4 star (174), PA 4.5 star (179)
Philippe Coutinho may be having a sticky season at Barcelona, but if he stays, he can become the star player at the club. The Brazilian only joined the club in January 2018, and delivered in the second half of last season with 10 goals and six assists, mostly operating as a left winger.
The 26-year-old Coutinho has a 174 CA on the game, which could hit is 179 potential by the end of the season. 18 dribbling, 18 technique and 18 flair see him valued at £69 million with a hefty wage of £400,000 a week.
La Masia is one of the finest youth academies in world football, with Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba , Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi all current starters who have graduated from the academy. Here are the new names you need to keep an eye on FM with Barca.
Abel Ruiz – CA 1.5 star (109), PA 3.5-4.5 star (150-180)
Abel Ruiz leads the line for the Barcelona B side, with the young Spaniard bursting onto the scene at U17 level, scoring 27 goals in 37 games for the Spanish national side. On FM his 109 CA can rise to somewhere between 150 and 180, making him a candidate to become the next man to smash in the goals after messieurs Messi and Suarez.
Juan Miranda – CA 2 star (120), PA 3.5-4.5 star (140-170)
Juan Miranda made his debut for the Barcelona first team this season, with the 19-year-old the only conventional left back option behind Jordi Alba. The 19-year-old has made four appearances this season, including one in the Champions League, showing he has the support of the coaching staff. On FM, his 120 CA can improve to a PA between 140 and 170.
Mateu Morey – CA 1.5 star (95), PA 2.5-3.5 star (140-170)
Right back Mateu Morey is still in the U19 set up but has a bright future ahead of him. The right back picked up 20 caps for Spain U17s, before moving up to the U18s in June 2018. The 18-year-old’s 95 CA can improve to a potential between 140 and 170.
Scouting & Coaching staff
Star midfielders (Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets)
Off the ball
Star defender (Gerard Pique)
Team Leaders – Lionel Mesis (C), Sergio Busquets (VC), Gerard Pique
Highly influential – Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba, Arturo Vidal, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti, Thomas Vermaelen
The Transfer Market
Starting transfer budget: £18 million
Remaining wage budget: £194,000 a week
Players to sell
With the B team setup also, there isn’t a huge need to sell players from the Barca first team. That said, there are plenty of centre backs about, with Thomas Vermaelen finding himself below Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Clement Lenglet and Jeison Murillo in the pecking order. You can sell him for around £5 million and free up £130,000 a week in your transfer budget.
New transfer budget: £23 million
New remaining wage budget: £324,000 a week
Even with the sale of Vermaelen, your transfer budget isn’t looking rosy at £23 million. You may want to jig your budgets around to take some off the wages and give it to the transfer kitty, but whatever you do, you will be in the market for a new backup striker.
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are the only men in the first team who can play up front, and with them both in the starting lineup, you need an alternative on the bench, or at least in the squad. Patrik Schick can be picked up for an absolute bargain at £20 million, with the Roma man’s wages at £80,000 a week. The Czech international has stats of 17 technique, 16 first touch and 16 flair to take his CA to 142, with his potential between at 164.
Thomas Vermaelen is the only man out of contract at the end of the season, and that played a part in the decision to sell him. If you fail to ship him, just allow the 32-year-old’s deal to expire and released him.
At large, Barcelona’s finances look in good health, but that may not be the case for much longer. The balance of the club is on the rise for the next season or two, but turnover both turnover and profit are set to decline. This may be due to the aging key players in the squad, but with a transfer budget of £195 million next season, there is no need to worry.
Return to European success
It’s a fantastic squad, but there is a sense that this could change after this season, with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez both 31. Ousmane Dembele will fly the flag in the years to come, but this season you need to cash in on those two South American superstars being at the top of their game. In La Liga, there are plenty of opportunities to rest your key men, and you should be aiming for a trip to the Champions League semi-finals at least. Your lack of money to spend is an issue, but if you stay injury free, you will be in with a shout of three trophies this season.
Full Barcelona player ratings
Marc-Andre ter Stegen
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