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Realistic Expectations for the Upcoming Season

A look into what Barça fans can expect to see from the team this season.

David Ramos

Last season, I posted an article debating what Barça fans could realistically expect from the team. Predicting a narrow win in La Liga, a Copa del Rey win and a spot in the Champions League semi-finals at least, it turns out I was some way off.

Nevertheless, I will again have a look at what realistic expectations can be placed on the team, with a bit more caution then I did last season.

We'll start with the league. While Atlético have lost two big players both to Chelsea, Diego Simeone has had a reasonably good summer. The arrival of Mario Mandžukić from Bayern Munich along with Jan Oblak, Guilherme Siqueira, Ángel Correa and Miguel Ángel Moyà mean the reigning champions stand a chance of retaining their crown. The contract extensions for both Juanfran and Koké will also be a big boost for them, with the latter strongly linked to Barça at one point.

On the other side of town Real Madrid have also strengthened. Toni Kroos of Bayern Munich joined for a very reasonable £26.4 million while the Madrid press have reported that a deal has been struck for the signing of World Cup starlet James Rodríguez. However these signings could open the door for Sami Khedira and Angel di Maria. Despite this, the new faces along with the existing squad make Real odds on favourites to win the league at this moment in time.

Barcelona have also added to their squad. Ivan Rakitic, Marc-André ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo have all joined the club as has controversial striker Luis Suárez. The Uruguyan striker, who is banned until late October for biting Giorgio Chiellini is no doubt a world class player but Barcelona have taken a big gamble on him and we will have to wait and see if it pays off.

The balance of experience and potential has been added to with the arrivals of both Bravo and ter Stegen, with both having a respectable case for being the club's number one. While Rakitic is a player who knows the league and seems to have all the attributes of a Barcelona midfielder.

There have also been departures for the Catalan club. Cesc Fàbregas was sold to Chelsea and Alexis Sánchez joins another London club in Arsenal. Victor Valdés and Jose Manuel Pinto both departed and club legend Carles Puyol retired. Most worryingly, Barcelona have yet to sign a replacement for Puyol are alarmingly short of natural centre backs.

I predict a similar title race to last season, with the three teams swapping positions throughout the season. I think Barcelona have got what it takes to win the title but Real Madrid will take some beating.

Next is the Champions League and it is a similar story. Real and Atlético will be hoping to repeat their achievements of last season while Barcelona will be hoping for a slightly better performance this time around.

If you look at bookmakers' favourites for this year's winner, it's the similar faces. Bayern Munich, under the helm of Pep Guardiola and largely made up of World Cup winners, look to be a real threat. Meanwhile José Mourinho's Chelsea look increasingly strong and could mount a challenge themselves.

With the majority of the crunch games in this tournament coming in the latter stage of the season, the absence of Neymar and Suárez shouldn't have took much effect on Barça's chances. By the time the knockout stages come around, both should be fully fit and firing on all cylinders.

Barcelona always have the ability to win this competition but for now I'm going to err on the side of caution and predict a semi-final spot, if not more, for the Catalan club.

Finally we have the Copa del Rey, a trophy which Barcelona hasn't won for two years now. It's no secret that this is the third most important trophy to the club but they are the side that has won it the most in it's history and will be looking to add to their 26 tally.

So at this moment in time, I think Barcelona will clinch a minimum of one trophy next season. What that trophy will be I can't tell you but it will be an improvement on last season's effort.

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