How Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho lined-up in new roles for Barcelona under Ronald Koeman in Girona friendly

NEW Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman did the unthinkable during his side's latest friendly against Girona… by switching up the starting formation.

For years Barca have stuck by their tried-and-tested 4-3-3 formation.

But Koeman opted to shake it up on Wednesday night by shifting his squad around to an aggressive 4-2-3-1 line-up.

Lionel Messi had looked set to quit the club earlier this summer – but now looks destined to stay.

Philippe Coutinho was another seemingly certain to leave, with Premier League sides queuing up to poach the ex-Liverpool ace.

Yet now, Messi and Coutinho appear to be the key men to Koeman's brand new system – with BOTH scoring in the 3-1 friendly win.

Interestingly, both stars played in a different role to in previous systems.

Despite Antoine Griezmann starting, Messi was tasked with leading the line in a false nine role.

Griezmann played just off the Argentine in the middle of an attacking midfield three, taking on a No10 role.

Coutinho, meanwhile, was shifted out to left wing – rather than the central midfield role he was most-familiar with at the Nou Camp.

The Brazilian "Little Magician" played on the left many times during his stints at Liverpool and Inter Milan.

But at Barcelona – and even Bayern Munich during his 2019-20 season loan – Coutinho has often been forced to take on a deeper, more central role.

And it's fair to say Coutinho thrived in his new position, scoring the first goal of the game before setting up Messi for his first goal of the game on the stroke of half-time.

Messi, too, shone – scoring twice in a six-minute spell either side of half-time.

The dynamic duo could have wreaked more havoc, too – but both were pulled after 63 minutes as Koeman made NINE changes from the bench.

Only time will tell if the 4-2-3-1 experiment was a one-off or just the beginning of a new-look Barcelona as they look to reclaim the LaLiga title from arch-rivals Real Madrid.

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