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Replacing Suarez, Activating French forwards... Things Setien should do at Barca

  /  autty

Despite the fact that new Barcelona coach Quique Setien is taking over the team top of the table it still feels as though he is walking into a crisis.

He must lift his players ahead of a difficult month of league games, which includes tough trips to Valencia and his old club Real Betis.

Get the players fitter

Ernesto Valverde gave the players the weekend off after they lost to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup semi-finals. Setien has them in for a double session on Tuesday afternoon.

It's partly for show of course. The weekend off was a normal piece of planning after the trip to Jeddah. And Tuesday's double session was planned before Setien was confirmed as coach.

But it sends a message to the supporters: the players weren't training properly under the old guy, the new man is in control.

Setien's fitness coach Fran Soto can begin to get to know his new players and Setien's highly rated No 2 Eder Sarabia will be able to introduce himself to the squad.

Improve the away record

Barcelona have played 10 games on the road and only won four, drawing three and losing three.

Barca have been going away from home and allowing the other team to dictate matches dominating possession for spells.

That will not happen under the new coach who is obsessed with 'having the ball' - training drills will reflect that.

Revitalise Busquets

When Setien's Betis beat Barcelona 4-3 last season, Sergio Busquets gave Setien his shirt as a gift. Setien told the midfielder: 'you will have to write something on it because I want to frame it.'

Busquets wrote: 'For Quique with admiration for the way you see football'.

Busquets will become pivotal for Barcelona once more. In all four of those away defeat he has not started the game.

He will back as the foundation of the midfield especially in tough away fixtures.

Make the fans forget Xavi

There were quite a few coaches consulted, talked up and offered the job before they came around to Setien.

After Xavi turned them down, Ronald Koeman was sounded out. Mauricio Pochettino was mentioned although never offered the job because the board knew his answer would be no.

It's the prospect of Xavi arriving that really got the supporters excited.

But Setien will be preaching from the same gospel as Xavi; his Cruyffista credentials will stand him in good stead at first.

Replace Suarez

It probably will not be in the transfer market. Barcelona would prefer to sign Lautaro Martinez in the summer as Suarez's long-term replacement than bring in a stop gap now.

They opted for the stop gap last year and Kevin-Prince Boateng barely played and was an embarrassing mistake.

Setien might not be bothered if a forward doesn't arrive. He has Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Ansu Fati and Carles Perez, as well as Spain under-21 international Abel Ruiz.

His preference is likely to be play two from those five and then play an extra midfielder.

He will also have Ousmane Dembele back at the start of February, giving him the option of playing Messi as a false nine between Griezmann and Dembele.

Getting the best out of the French forwards

Suarez's absence is huge. He has scored or set up 25 of Barcelona's 60 goals this season.

Griezmann should not need much encouraging – he will be ready to take this chance to become Barcelona's second most important player.

Dembele might be more difficult to get on message.

He never really responded to Valverde's attempts at rousing him from the sloppy complacency that has seen him only show glimpses of his talent.

Setien is know for his calm paternal approach. He must hope Dembele responds.

Get both Arthurs on side

Arturo Vidal was unhappy at the turn of the year. Not pleased about not playing enough minutes and feeling he had been duped over an alleged unpaid bonus.

Arthur Melo has not been so publicly displeased but he has been disconnected.

Currently out with a groin problem he can't return soon enough for the new coach.

On form he is the closest thing Barcelona have to the old Xavi so it's vital that Setien motivates him in a way that Valverde could not seem to do.