Introducing the first column for Tribal Football from Barcelona legend Sergi Barjuan, discussing topics such as Lionel Messi, Ronaldo Koeman and the Blaugrana's vital clash with Atletico Madrid this weekend.
LEO MESSI'S FUTURE
As the best player the player in the world and Barcelona's most important player over many seasons now, I believe Leo Messi has the power and the right to decide what is best for him regarding what will be his best option for the future.
It's true that he was formed as a player in Barcelona since he was a boy and has achieved the maximum in terms of titles and awards on a club level in Spain and Europe. He and his family have to be clear about what he and also what they want regarding the future.
In the near future, his first choice has to be FC Barcelona. Apart from having already won the Copa del Rey this season and the possibility of winning La Liga influencing his decision to stay, the club still has to convince him some more and really present him with a viable project that will make him the "best player in the world & at the best club in the world".
I believe that with the new directiva, Joan Laporta, there is a bit more feeling and this could help smooth the negotiations of getting Messi to stay at Barcelona.
Messi during his match winning performance against Valencia
VERSATILITY OF OSCAR MINGUEZA
I believe that Oscar Mingueza has won the right for his contract to be renewed at FC Barcelona.
He is a player formed in the junior teams/youth squads of FC Barcelona and those players are a real priority for the senior squad of FC Barcelona, these days in terms of having a solid base of home-grown players for this actual decade at the highest level.
Mingueza is still young, so it is difficult to say at what level he is going to reach, in terms of reaching the defensive level of Piqué or Puyol.
Sincerely speaking, what I can confirm is that he has moulded well to the new system at Barca and the pressure too. He can play well as a central defender and right-back, which gives him a promising future. Versatility is important in football and even more so at Barca.
Mingueza has begun to feature regularly for Barcelona
ROLE OF RONALD KOEMAN
When Ronald Koeman accepted the job as manager he knew it was a very complicated time at the club.
Barcelona had lost 8-2 to Bayern Munich and the club was in a very difficult situation, financially-speaking, meaning it was just not possible to sign big names anymore. Ronald accepted the challenge and I believe that, little by little, he has won the confidence of the club and convinced the squad with an innovative system for Can Barça, given that it is not typical to play with three central defenders.
However, with this new system he has already won the Copa del Rey and they are fighting to win La Liga. Six months ago, it was impossible to envisage that Barcelona would now be in this privileged position.
His role as a manager has been exceptional. I believe his continuation at the club would be a wise move. It would help Barça and the manager grow, all going in the same direction and also create the right atmosphere so that Koeman would be given more time to develop this project with the players so that they can all grow too.
Koeman could finish the season with an unlikely double
SITUATION WITH TRINCAO
Regarding what has happened to Trincao is a bit of a mystery but there are reasons for his dip in form too.
It's true that Koeman counted on Trincao before more than now. The change in system has also damaged Trincao who was a player suited for one-on-one situations going forward and playing out wide. Then, he had to change to a striker going forward from the inside, which isn't the system that suits him best as a striker.
This has closed the door on him for quite a few matches in terms of not being chosen in the first eleven. However, it has to be said that Koeman took over a team that was destroyed and the manager has tried to 'work' and build the team up little by little. In difficult situations, it is complicated for the players to react and some players just don't react to the changes, even Leo Messi struggled to get his form back when the results were not forthcoming.
Now that Ronald has found this new system and got it up and running and working well, I think that Trincao can have more minutes if Barcelona are, for example, losing with a 3-5-2 system and he can turn around the match changing to a 4-3-3 system with Trincao upfront and help effectively turn the results around in Barça's favour.
Trincao is a young player who needs a firmer understanding of being effective with his positioning during a match, in terms of being useful to the team off the ball and on it too and to show his worth on the pitch in terms of what he cost the club when they signed him.
I hope that he improves as the years go by, and that an already good player becomes an even better one with time.
Trincao in action
FC BARCELONA vs ATLÉTICO MADRID (TIPPING POINT)
Regarding a prediction for this weekend's blockbuster clash between my two former clubs, FC Barcelona & Atlético Madrid, as you know, I played for a decade at FC Barcelona and 3 years at Atlético Madrid.
I would say that at this moment in time (hoy por hoy), Barcelona is playing better than Atlético Madrid as a team. Atlético Madrid has had moments of lucidity and there are still three Atleti players who continue to shine but the team is not really as brilliant anymore. Their last few matches have not been so effective either.
When Barça play at home, even without their fans, knowing they have to win as a draw is not going to be convenient for them, I would bet on Barcelona winning this absolutely vital match.
However, Atlético Madrid are great on the counter attack and have three players who make a difference upfront like Luis Suarez, Marcos Llorente and Yannick Carrasco. I believe that this really is the key match for either club in terms of fighting for La Liga title. It's the tipping point of the season.