On Monday night Barcelona sacked manager and two time La Liga winner Ernesto Valverde whilst still sitting top of the league.
The La Liga champions released a statement on Monday night thanking Valverde for his efforts. Apparently an agreement was reached between the two parties for them to part ways.
Just four minutes after this announcement Barcelona’s next tweet was to say they had a new manager. Quique Setien will take over at the club and has signed a contract until June 2020. The ex-Real Betis manager guided his old side to wins against Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico last season.
The decision came as a surprise to the Barcelona fans, especially considering they have replaced him with Setien. The original rumours were that Xavi was going to be returning to take charge. He confirmed that he had met with Sporting Direct Eric Abidal over the weekend for discussions.
Valverde himself will have been surprised also. He won the league with Barcelona for the last two seasons and is currently top of La Liga on goal difference. However, getting knocked out of the Super Cup to Atletico after being in front won’t have helped his cause.
The biggest issue though with the owners and board was there poor performance in Europe. They haven’t won the Champions League since 14/15. In that time their league rivals Real Madrid have been and won the trophy another three times!
This was only made worst last season as well when after the first leg of the semi-final it looked nailed on that they would win the competition. However, they let a 3-0 first-leg lead slip to go and lose 4-0 away at Liverpool and get knocked out of the competition.
In bringing in Setien they are bringing a manager who brings an attacking style of play. By doing so they are hoping they can turn around their Champions League fortunes and win it this year.
Can Setien get first season success?
The five-time winners need to get back to challenging for the Champions League. They are in the Round Of 16 and have drawn Napoli away. This is definitely a winnable fixture for Barcelona, Napoli are struggling in the Seria A currently having won just once in their last six league games.
Barca are the second-favourites to win the Champions League at 5/1 with Betway. Any side with Messi in is always going to be one of the favourites for the biggest competition of the year. Only Real Madrid and Barcelona are at a lower price of both 4/1 on Betway.
In terms of the league, Barcelona are the outright favourites to win it for the third year in a row. They are on level points with Real but are priced at 8/15 with Zidane’s team at 13/8. This will be a very interesting title race as both sides don’t seem to be able to capitalise on each other’s mistakes.