The international break is officially over, and club football finally returns to our lives this weekend. However, there is another international break in just three weeks, but that will be the last until March of next year, so that's good news.
For the next three weeks, we will have a chance to find out just how good and strong Barcelona really are this season. September's schedule was tough in terms of number of games, but there weren't any real difficult matches. But this time, it's for real. The schedule ahead brings six games in 22 days, and four of them are among the toughest matches in the entire campaign.
This schedule... Damn. pic.twitter.com/vH8zegbl64— Renato Gonçalves (@renatodsg) October 11, 2016
Take Deportivo La Coruña and Granada out of the pitcture, which will most likely be easy games at home, and there are four incredibly tough matchups ahead, THREE of them on the road. After Depor, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City visit Camp Nou next Wednesday, and you've had to be in Mars not to know just how amazing the Sky Blues have looked under their new manager, which just happens to be the greatest coach in Barça history.
After that game, we have a trip to Mestalla to play Valencia. The Bats have been a laughing stock in Spain for the last year and the club has been run in a ridiculous way, but that doesn't mean Barça will have an easy night. Diego Alves will once again make 50 saves, one of them probably a penalty, Valencia will score a goal thanks to an error from the Barça defense, and we'll have to be at our very best to get either a 1-1 draw or a 2-1 win. It's the same every year, and it will be this way again. Count on it.
Granada gives us somewhat of an easier challenge, but then there's two ridiculously tough games before the November international break: the return leg against Man City at Etihad Stadium that will probably decide who will finish at the of the group, and Guardiola will certainly make some amazing adjustment from the game at Camp Nou and turn this into a war of attrition where anyone can win.
And then, perhaps the most difficult match of any La Liga season: at the Pizjuán against Jorge Sampaoli's Sevilla, who are currently ahead of Barça in the table and will still be close to the Blaugrana by the time that game takes place. Sampaoli has somehow made the Sevillistas better and more fun that Unai Emery, and it's not an exaggeration to say we should be happy with a draw in that game. We did beat Sevilla 2-0 at the Pizjuán in the Spanish Super Cup, but that was only Sampaoli's second game in charge. The team looks much better now and will be even stronger in three weeks, and we should not be looking forward to that game. It'll be damn hard.
Luis Enrique will have to rotate the squad with so many games in so very few days, and there are some injuries at the moment. He'll have to be careful with his system to have the strongest possible lineup for every match, and the deepest squad in recent Barça history needs to be up to the task.
Pep (twice), Historically Tough Valencia, Insanely Tough Sevilla. The next three weeks will be fun.