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Oct 24, 2013

Barcelona's big offensive problems

Can Neymar and Messi coexist for Barcelona on the offensive end?

It may not look like it, but Barcelona is in the midst of transition. While the club has won 15 trophies in the last five seasons, and is unbeaten so far going into this weekend’s Clasico versus Real Madrid, managerial changes and cumulative wear on a core group that averages roughly 50 games per season mean that the club must always protect against a sudden drop in form. The average age of Barcelona’s roster is a healthy 26.6 years, and more importantly the club has the financial resources to replenish its roster and make upgrades at any point in time. This was proven in the summer transfer window, as Barcelona signed Neymar for a then-record 57 million euros.

Yet in spite of Barcelona’s world-class individual talent, it is no secret that the construction of a core lineup is especially tricky at a major club. The players on the field need to be able to complement each other’s strengths, but also do it with enough flair and aesthetics to please a massive fan base. Barcelona is favored in Saturday’s Clasico, and at first glance it could be argued that the club is the team to beat in La Liga not just this season, but in the years to come. The Catalan club currently holds a plus-22 goal differential, the best in Europe’s top five leagues, and is just one goal off the scoring pace from its 2012-13 La Liga title season.

But two draws in the past week have raised questions about Barcelona, and with the Clasico looming, some of Barcelona’s warts may be starting to show. If the club is to remain a European favorite, there are a few offensive issues that it must address.

Neymar and Lionel Messi: Can they coexist?

Neymar and Messi have each successfully...