Barcelona crumbled to record their first La Liga loss of the new season.
That essentially did nothing but to provide us more evidence that sooner or later, Barcelona is going to need a new star on its roster just to keep things moving in the right direction.
Neymar, seems to be the guy Barcelona wants to rely on.
And for good reason.
Barcelona needs someone to support Suarez while the Paris Saint-Germain attacking star is looking to leave the club.
Reports say that Barcelona fans rallied to chant the name ‘Neymar’ (supposedly at Josep Maria Bartomeu, the current president of Barcelona football club) when Maria arrived with the squad to a particular Bilbao hotel just before Barcelona’s opening league match against Bilbao on Friday.
As alluded to just now, after the Catalan club failed to score any points by the end of match-night, it seemed like the Brazillian striker would add much-needed depth in the Barcelona attack.
Of course, a couple of years ago, no one would have thought of Barcelona needing some assistance in its attack because of players such as Messi.
But Messi is getting to a stage now where he is unable to change directions as quickly as he used to.
That has reduced his effectiveness on the field.
For now, we don’t know how Messi is going to adapt to these limitations.
We do know that when Ronaldo realized that he could no longer rely on his speed and explosiveness alone to perform for Real Madrid on the field, he changed.
And he has managed to keep a high level of performance ever since turning 30.
Again, we don’t know if he can make that transition from being the best player in the world because of his speed and quickness to being the best player in the world because of his quality of football.
Luis Suarez managed to get himself injured towards the end of the match and that further gave ‘evidence’ to people at Barcelona that they needed another striker.
Perhaps Barcelona should have concentrated more on stopping Aritz Aduriz who did score a pretty sensational scissor-kick goal that even allowed Bilbao to win the game in the final stages of the match.
For those who don’t know, Aritz Aduriz is a 28-year old Athletic Bilbao striker who, like Ronaldo, has managed to stay evergreen by changing his game according to changes in his physical body.
The goal that Artiz Aduriz scored shows that Barcelona is currently lacking the cutting edge that they need to win games on a regular basis.
Aduriz showed Barcelona that with a proper first touch at important points in the game, one can make a significant impact on the given match even after coming on the pitch as a substitute.
But is this really something new?
Barcelona has always struggled without Messi.
And on the night of the match, it looked like they desperately needed the injured Lionel Messi just to even create an opening let alone a goal-scoring opportunity.
With that said, it is true that the Basque side had an impressive defense and it did everything to make it a tight clash.
Predictably, Barcelona struggled a lot to break down their defense.
It seems the summer mega-signing of Antoine Griezmann did not help Barcelona much.
Or at least not for now.
But were Barcelona really expecting Antoine Griezmann to raise the level of their play without a fully fit and performing Messi?
Griezmann is good.
But he is more of a finisher rather than a creator who can also finish.
Suarez is a striker that can quickly create opportunities on his own and then finish them.
Greizmann is not that type of striker.
To be fair, Barcelona were playing an away match.
And if there is one thing we know about Barcelona (and Lionel Messi), it is that they are thrice as effective at home as they are away.
Perhaps that is the major reason why Antoine Griezmann’s debut for the team was not enough to get the result Barcelona wanted.
Griezmann is not useless
We don’t mean to say that Greizmann is not a good player.
The premium French forward has shown on more than a few occasions that he can work hard defensively.
In fact, that is the key skill which made Griezmann such a huge favorite of Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone.
Now, the problem with such a trait is that Barcelona doesn’t need that.
For better or worse, Barcelona is an attacking side.
And it wants Griezmann to bolster the attacking output of the side.
There is little point in Griezmann trying to make up for his lack of offensive performance by helping out in defense.
Of course, Athletic Bilbao clearly was the better side for the majority of the game.
Raul Garcia and Inaki Williams tested Marc-Andre Ter Stegen more than a couple of times but he made some smart-looking stops each time.
Barcelona itself managed to hit the post a couple of times as well.
Unai Lopez’s less-than-smart backpass made its way to the Uruguayan striker Suarez and he struck the post.
Not that impressive for a striker who has shown he can score upwards of 40 goals a season with Barcelona.
Maybe the fact that he had a calf injury and was pretty much limping by the time he struck the post led to Barcelona not having that many striking opportunities.
Understandably, Barcelona replaced Suarez with Rafinha.
And just like Suarez, Rafinha also crashed one of his efforts against the Bilbao crossbar.
But that was only after Unai Simon got a thick hand to his shot.
Recent reports say that the Brazillian may just leave Barcelona before we see the end of the transfer window.
Against Bilbao, Rafinha showed good link-up play along with invention and skills.
All of that leads us to believe that if Barcelona wants to keep Rafinha, the club has no other choice but to guarantee him lots of playing time.
He will have to remain free of injuries though.
Even then, we fear that Barcelona is just going to use him as a reserve option as far as the team’s attack is concerned.
Can one really fault Barcelona?
History has clearly shown that Rafinha is pretty much eminently breakable.
A team like Barcelona that has to perform week in and week out in a multiple number of tournaments simply cannot rely on a player like Rafinha to keep fit both physically and mentally.
Guillermo Armo, a director at Barcelona, recently stated before one match that Barcelona had managed to reach a deal with Bayern Munich for the ex-Liverpool player Phillipe Coutinho.
He will go to Bayern Munich on loan.
Coutinho, though a brilliant player for Liverpool, had a painful 18 months at Barcelona and a spell with Bayern Munich may as well save his career.
Of course, it is also possible that Barcelona got rid of him just to cut its own wage bill.
Some way Barcelona wanted to cut the wage bill in order to create some space for the potential return of Neymar.
Neymar, as most of you would already know, left Barcelona less than two years ago to PSG for a massive amount of money.
At this point, there is no point in Barcelona overacting.
The season is long and it is just one defeat.
Of course, if Real Madrid is able to get an early lead over Barcelona, maybe another defeat in El-Clasico won’t hurt its chances of becoming the champions of Spain.
Moreover, Barcelona is still yet to hit its top geat.
As alluded to before, Barcelona has never played world-class football with its talisman and probably its only true star player Lionel Messi.
It is interesting to note though that the last time the Blaugrana lost the first match of a given La Liga season was back in 2008 under Pep Guardiola.
Barcelona lost to Numancia 1-0.
However, Barcelona kept its head and managed to do a treble that season.
Of course, that won’t happen this time around since Real Madrid is a much stronger team than it was in 2008 and it will make sure Barcelona has to jump over enough hoops to get drained come the end of the season.
For what it’s worth, Barcelona did try to save the game by bringing on Carles Perez to replace Sergi Roberto.
With 15 minutes left to play, Carles Perez proved the point many pundits are making:
Barcelona needs Neymar more than Neymar needs Barcelona.
Looking at the state of Barcelona attack in the first game of the season, it is not hard to recall that Neymar did light up the Camp Nou with this pretty stable box of tricks and flips.
Dembele and Griezmann do not have the quality to go past defenders as Neymar can or at least did.
Barcelona’s performance against Bilbao has definitely started to change the minds of the management at the club.
Of course, Barcelona fans have been urging the club to re-sign Neymar.
On that note, Real Madrid is not just going to sit there and make it easy for Barcelona to sign Neymar.
The least we expect from Real Madrid is to bid for Neymar to try and sign him and in the process (if they fail) raise the asking price that PSG asks of Barcelona.