Barcelona had a narrow escape last year when an end-season slump saw Real Madrid almost catch up with them. But it was clear that the two Madrid sides were gradually becoming better prepared when it came to facing the Catalan giant. Luis Enrique had a pressing issue in the form of adding cover for the famed MSN as they didn’t really have a player who could step in and try to replicate even half of what Neymar and Suarez do. But they were in-principle unsuccessful as their main targets rejected a chance to move to Barcelona as a bench role was clearly evident.
They did go on to make a handful of transfers but most of them were provisions for the future as they got to adjust to the playing style under the likes of Iniesta, Rakitic and Busquets. As we take a look back at the 11 matches till now, it is clear that this year the title race will be the toughest in years and the possibility of top teams like Barcelona, Real and Atletico dropping points against lower ranked clubs is a real which we have already seen happening on more than one occasion.
Let us take a brief look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Nou Camp outfit till now.
Like always their biggest strength is their front line of MSN. Messi has looked meaner and more purposeful than ever and with his fellow attackers, is bent on avenging the frustration of his National team’s issues through goals and assists. They already have 22 goals and 12 assists amongst them.
The performances of the likes of Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez has been encouraging and bodes well for both the immediate and the distant future. Rafinha has been a surprise goal scorer for them this season and is ahead of Neymar with 5 goals but his underlying stats suggests that the goals might well dry up as the season progresses.
Barcelona’s defence has been one of the worst since a long long time. They are shambles at the back with all the players barring Pique failing to put up a performance, including the goalkeeper. Surprisingly, Ter Stegen has looked incredibly shaky and error-prone in his goalkeeping and distribution alike. His form has been a big let down especially after Bravo left for Manchester City.
Their defence without Pique has been a wafer-thin wall capable of being felled by most teams in La Liga and as we saw in the EPL also. Sergi Roberto is not a right-back and it was blasphemy on Barca’s part not to replace Dani Alves. And to make matters worse, Sergio Busquets has failed to do what he has always been doing.
The Blaugrana have to cut down on these mistakes if they are to ward off Real Madrid’s strong push for the title this season.
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