Quique Setien makes his debut as the new coach of FC Barcelona on Sunday when his side entertains Granada in the Camp Nou Stadium.
Setien was named as the replacement for Ernesto Valverde on Monday and has had a week to work with the squad ahead of the match. The former Lugo, Las Palmas and Betis coach is known for his love of possession football and made his footballing manifesto clear during the week in an interview where he said some people might be happy simply winning, but that he wanted to win because his side played good football.
Those words will have gone down well in the Camp Nou, where his predecessor Ernesto Valverde was sometimes criticized for being too pragmatic, despite winning two league titles and the Copa del Rey in his two years in charge and leaving with the team leading the Liga Santander.
Setien starts his reign without Luis Suarez, with the Uruguayan opting for a knee operation to cure a long standing problem. Suarez will be out for around four months and his influence in the team is second only to Leo Messi, with stats showing he either scored or gave the assist in Barca’s last 12 goals.
Barca will hope that Suarez’s loss will allow Antoine Griezmann to take on more responsibility, while the return of Ouseman Dembele should also help Setien as he waits to see if the club will sign a new striker.
Frenkie De Jong is suspended after his sending off against Espanyol a fortnight ago, while there is a question mark over the fitness of Arthur Melo and Carles Alena has been loaned to Betis.
Those absences could open the door to youngster Riqui Puig, who is one of the great hopes of the Barca youth system and it will be interesting to see if Setien will show faith in Puig, who has been knocking on the door of the first team for over a year, but not yet made the step up apart from a couple of isolated appearances.
Marc Andre Ter Stegen should return in goal against a Granada side that produced one of the shocks of the season when they defeated Barca 2-0 in their Los Carmenes in September.
That result was an early sign that all was not well with Barca, on Sunday the club will be hoping to see it has turned a corner. Enditem