Barcelona have not had the best start to the 2019/20 season and have also had to deal with injuries to Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele, leaving manager Ernesto Valverde lost for how to structure his attack to function properly in games.
They will be thankful for the international break however, as it will give them an opportunity to assess their squad strength and plan accordingly for the coming weeks in which they will be faced with arguably their biggest challenge this season.
The rest of September up till the beginning of October will see the Blaugranas face a total of seven games before club football action takes another break for international commitments again. The seven matches include two Champions League fixtures and five La Liga fixtures against teams who are currently playing at a very high level.
The Catalans’ first test will be against Valencia this Saturday at the Camp Nou. Valencia themselves have not had the best start to the season but in the past two seasons, they seem to have been able to unlock a level of awareness whenever they have to play against Barcelona, and this is evident in the two draws from La Liga last season and the Copa del Rey victory in June this year. This is a match where Barça will be looking to get the points that will help them begin to climb the La Liga table.
Immediately after the match against Valencia, the opening game of the 2019/20 Champions League campaign for Barcelona follows, with the Catalans travelling to Germany for a real test against a Borussia Dortmund team armed with a free-scoring Jadon Sancho and former Barcelona man, Paco Alcacer on Tuesday 17 September. The German club could not resist taking a dig at the Blaugrana boys following their disastrous exit to Liverpool in the 2018/19 campaign, and will be looking to get one over Barcelona in what should be their toughest fixture on paper.
Time to practice our corners ?♂️ https://t.co/ua104F7CWo
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) August 29, 2019
The only time both clubs have faced each other in competitive games was in the 1997 UEFA Super cup, with Barcelona winning the two-legged tie on aggregate with a 3-1 scoreline.
Things will then slow down a bit for Barcelona with three more league matches before the end of September: Granada (Saturday, 21 September), Villarreal (Tuesday, 24 September) and Getafe (Saturday, 28 September). These teams are not going to be walkovers for Barcelona though, especially Getafe who have been superb so far in the season. These are crucial nine points to play for in just seven days.
The Champions League second round group stage fixture against Internazionale follows after the Getafe match at the Camp Nou on 2 October, and Antonio Conte will be bringing his boys with only one mission in mind, to do damage at the Camp Nou, armed with the pain of defeat at this stage of the competition in last year’s campaign.
Not only have Inter as a team had a good start to their season, but all their players are performing well individually compared to the dishevelled state of the Barcelona team. They will also be bringing the momentum from their first Champions League group stage match where they will host Slavia Prague whom they are expected to make light work of.
The international break will be back from 7 October but not before Barcelona welcomes Sevilla to the Camp Nou on Sunday 6 October. Sevilla have had a good start to their campaign as well, and their new squad is still as unpredictable as ever, as we are yet to truly see the extent of damage they can cause together. Luckily, Barcelona will have six more matches to study (Sevilla will be taking part in the Europa League, along with four other league matches) before welcoming the Seville club.
Barcelona run a risk of restarting their season without the talismanic Messi and ‘El Pistolero’ Luis Suarez, who have again both been reported as being a doubt for Valencia.
It is going to be a really tough season for Valverde, and this could turn out to be the one which makes or breaks his Barcelona career.