Three Reasons Why Barcelona Can Go On to Clinch The Champions League Crown This Season
FC Barcelona perhaps, had the worst possible starts to their summer. Got humiliated by PSG’s Verratti over a possible deal, then lost Neymar to the same club, deteriorated relationships with clubs like Liverpool, Dortmund and OGC Nice trying to seek player deals before speaking to the clubs. Worse still, they got humiliated by arch rivals Real Madrid in a 5-1 aggregate result in the Supercopa de Espana.
Fast forward a month and a half. Barcelona are THE dominant force in Europe. Managing a 100% win record in Liga, outscoring their opponents and conceding fewer goals when compared to previous seasons, it looks like Valverde has got his plans sorted and the squad is responding to his instructions on the pitch as well.
Barcelona started their Champions League campaign against Juventus in spectacular fashion with a 3-0 result, proving their doubters wrong.
Here’s why Barcelona might just go on to win their 6th Champions League title, this season:
Lionel Messi – The Focal Point Of Their Attack
Lionel Messi looks like a man on a mission yet again and Valverde has brought him to the centre of the park. Messi now occupies the famous False 9 position that he and Guardiola so ingeniously crafted to wreak havoc on opposition defence. Remember 2012? Messi scored 91 goals that year from the False 9 position, breaking Gerd Muller’s long standing maximum goals in a year record.
Add in a goalhungry Messi and suddenly even Southampton will look like they have decent UCL winning chances. Messi not only scores, he also creates chances and drops deep into the midfield to dictate the game’s tempo and is arguably the greatest ever. Barcelona will always be a Champions League contender as long as Messi plays at his best.
Focus Shifted To Midfield
The midfield has always been Barcelona’s modus operandi and treasured gem. Cruyff, Rijkaard and Pep all had successful tenures at the club as they prioritised the midfield more than any other facet. Under Luis Enrique, Barcelona were competitive, sure, but it wasn’t the same Barcelona that people knew. While the MSN grabbed the headlines, scoring and assisting for fun, somewhere, the midfield lost focus and became lack-lustre.
Valverde has revitalised that aspect of the game. Iniesta looks like an illusionist as he did under Pep, and Busquets had always been the heart of this Barcelona side. While Rakitic has been inconsistent, Valverde has other options in the promising Denis Suarez, Andre Gomes – who has a point to prove, and also, the latest addition, Paulinho, who provides a different dimension in terms of physicality, brute force and those odd goals from set-pieces, proving to be an essential Plan B.
Right-back Vacancy Sorted And A Compact Defence
Barcelona purchased right-back Nelson Semedo from SL Benfica and it is easily a bargain. The talented Portuguese youngster has fit right in and promises a Dani Alves-like quality fullback in the making. The kind of fullbacks that Barcelona loves. He is amazing at getting forward, playing the right pass and finding men, and is solid at the back. Jordi Alba has regained form after a couple of not so enterprising seasons.
Samuel Umtiti is another great buy in recent years and he reminds us of Puyol with his dedication and composure on the ball. Umtiti is excellent at circulating play from the back as well and is a beast at defending set pieces. Pique looks off colour and cules will hope he finds his form in the upcoming matches. They also have Mascherano as the deputy.
Rafinha and Ousmane Dembele are expected to make their comebacks from injury in November and January respectively. They’ll return fit and will add in the extra energy during those important knockout stage matches. Barcelona has a large squad and can even rely upon B players like Alena, Palencia, Cucurella to help them provide squad depth. 2017/18 may well be Barcelona’s year.