Barcelona finished the 2016 Liga action with a convincing 4-1 win over city rivals Espanyol. Lionel Messi returned to his dark brown hair and also to his best with a match winning second half performance. However, this result is actually out of the ordinary for Barcelona’s home form so far this season. Nine points already dropped is a worrying statistic that has led league leaders Real Madrid to enjoying a healthy gap. Barça currently sit three points behind Madrid having played a game more due to Los Blancos’ Club World Cup exploits. Luis Enrique can take some solace in the fact that arguably the two toughest opponents have already visited Camp Nou but on the flip side, it means two tough away fixtures at the Calderón and the Bernabéu later in the crucial stage of the season.
The league form could be described as good but needs improvement:
THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
One blip aside, Barcelona’s Champions League performances have been stellar. Five wins out of six games with a goal difference of +16 ensured Barça earned top spot in Group C. It was by no means an easy group with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and a potentially tricky away tie to Borussia Mönchengladbach and Celtic but Barcelona came through victorious. The only negative was the away defeat to City where Guardiola got his tactics spot on and goals from İlkay Gündoğan and Kevin De Bruyne earned the Manchester side a 3-1 win.
Barcelona have been drawn against a familiar opponent of PSG in the next round and despite them being one of the tougher opponents the Catalans could have faced, Barça have good form against them and will be confident of progressing.
COPA DEL REY
The Copa hasn’t really gotten into full swing yet for Barça having only played the one game so far. However, that sole game was a slight disappoint at only managing a 1-1 draw away to Hércules CF. The return leg of that fixture is this week and will surely see Barcelona progressing.
Barcelona made a host of summer signings with a total of six players joining the club. It has been a mixed bag of the performance levels from these players so far with Samuel Umtiti being the standout player. He has seamlessly fitted into the defensive rotation and does not look out of his depth when playing along side Gerard Pique or Javier Mascherano. He will want more game time though as he slowly convinces Enrique that he should be a starter.
Lucas Digne was another addition to the defence and like Umtiti he has had some trouble in getting game time. He has been used more of late and has performed well but his problem remains having Jordi Alba ahead of him in the pecking order. Jasper Cillessen has only made two appearances so it would be harsh to judge him just yet.
Denis Suárez rejoined the club in the summer and has made a total of nine appearances so far. He started brightly but didn’t really take the opportunity when Andrés Iniesta picked up an injury which led to André Gomes being picked ahead of him. Gomes himself has played well especially in more recent matches but still needs to do more to justify his heavy price tage.
The final summer signing was Paco Alcácer who has struggled, particularly in the goals department. In fact, the only time he has found the net was in last week’s Qatar friendly.
All of the signings have shown potential but could do more in the second half of the season.
Barcelona have been good but not near their best just yet. The home form in the league needs desperate improvement but Madrid are not so far ahead that the difference is uncatchable. The club have had many highlights including a strong Champions League showing and several key players signing new contracts.