The story appears on

Page A16

January 17, 2020

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Sports » Soccer

Replacing Suarez: Setien’s tough task

Quique Setien’s first task at Barcelona will be a difficult one: Replace injured striker Luis Suarez.

Just before Setien arrived at the Camp Nou, Suarez was ruled out for fourth months with a knee injury, and now it will be up to the new coach to keep Barcelona’s attack thriving without the prolific Uruguay forward.

Suarez, who underwent surgery on his right knee last Sunday, was Barcelona’s second-leading scorer this season with 14 goals, behind only Lionel Messi.

Suarez didn’t play in the beginning of the season because of another injury, but since his return he had missed only one game — against Slavia Prague in the UEFA Champions League in November.

Setien has few options in the squad to replace Suarez.

Ousmane Dembele — usually the team’s first reserve in attack — also is out injured, meaning Setien will likely have to rely on Messi and Antoine Griezmann, with the sporadic support of youngsters Ansu Fati and Carles Alena.

The team could also sign another striker in the current transfer window to help make up for Suarez’s absence, but for now Setien will have to be creative.

“Obviously it’s a concern because there is an important player who is injured,” Setien said on Tuesday after being introduced as Ernesto Valverde’s replacement. “But we have to think about the players that we have available. That’s what really matters right now.”

Setien could change the team’s usual 4-3-3 tactical scheme at some point, which could help accommodate Suarez’s absence. A solution could be to use Messi as a “false” No. 9 up front.

The 61-year-old Setien, who was without a club since leaving Real Betis at the end of last season, has his first game in charge of Barcelona on Sunday, when the team hosts Granada in the Spanish league. The Catalans lead the league ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference. They have drawn three of their last four league games.

Setien has scheduled a practice session for the morning of the match, something players are not accustomed to.

Setien’s first surprise move in charge of Barcelona could be to call up youngster Riqui Puig to the first team. The 20-year-old midfielder had few chances under Valverde last year, but there are signs he may be part of Setien’s plans.

He practiced with the main squad in Setien’s first session on Tuesday, receiving close attention from the new coach. Puig also was left out of the list of players selected for the “B” team’s game this week, another indication he could join the first team against Granada.

“I always look at the academy players. It is important to keep the first-team players from relaxing,” Setien said. “I’ve always maintained that if they keep progressing and earn their chance, they will be allowed to be part of the first team.”


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend