By Pete Jenson for MailOnline
Published: 11:10 BST, 17 August 2019 | Updated: 11:15 BST, 17 August 2019
The last time Barcelona lost their opening game of the season it was 2008 and they had some novice coach by the name of Pep Guardiola in charge of the team. They recovered to win the treble.
Friday night’s 1-0 defeat at San Mames might not be the end of the world then. But the manner of the loss does throw the team into another existential crisis: what are we? Why are we here? Do we need to sign Neymar?
Before the game kicked off news came through that Philippe Coutinho had agreed in principal to join Bayern Munich on a one-year loan deal with an optional buy at the end of the season.
Barcelona lost their opening game of the La Liga season at Athletic Bilbao on Friday night
That seemed to swing the Neymar-ometer towards ‘not coming’. After all, Coutinho was the one player who seemed to be up for being used as a makeweight in the deal. If Barcelona can only get Neymar by swapping players and if Coutinho is the one player that both PSG want and Barcelona are prepared to let go then his departure to Germany surely kills the deal.
Then again, when you lose your opening match for the first time in over a decade, supporters – even those previously against re-signing Neymar – begin to come around to the idea that it would be a good idea to have a little more magic in the team.
Barcelona have also saved themselves €12million (£11m) on Coutinho’s wages. So the Neymar-ometer swings back towards him coming.
All this back and forth on the swing-ometer is certainly making Jordi Alba sick. Asked about Neymar after the game the left-back said: ‘It’s getting tiresome now. We just have to wait to see what happens until the end of the market. I have nothing else to say.’
Would Neymar improve this Barcelona? It’s still difficult to see where he would fit in. Last night, in Lionel Messi’s absence Ousmane Dembele started on the right and Antoine Griezmann on the left of centre-forward Luis Suarez.
Pressure is already mounting on Ernesto Valverde as he tries to find a nice balance in his squad
Antoine Griezmann started on the left but looked uncomfortable