Barcelona may have stumbled to a 0-0 draw versus Olympiacos in midweek but throughout the game, the team created several great chances, none more so than Luis Suarez’s chip that dinked the crossbar.
While the game can certainly be viewed as a disappointment, it is important that Ernesto Valverde quickly motivates his players for Saturday’s clash with Sevilla in La Liga. With an international break looming, it is imperative that Barcelona end on a winning run.
The international break comes at an interesting time for Barcelona. They’re undefeated in league play, coming off a strong 2-0 win versus Athletic Bilbao, a team that may only have 11 points, but always present a tough challenge.
Next up are Sevilla, currently sitting fifth in the table with 19 points, only one point behind Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Beating Sevilla would ensure Barca go into the break with at least an eight-point lead over Madrid with only 11 games played thus far. Not only that, but a win would solidify the confidence throughout the Barcelona squad. An important factor when accounting for the time spent away on international duty.
Secondly, and for the first time in a while, both Madrid and Atletico have not looked up for the challenge so far this year. Zinedine Zidane’s side are coming off two consecutive losses to minnows Girona and a strong Tottenham side, while Diego Simeone’s men just played out two consecutive draws versus Villarreal and Qarabag.
It is clear that both Madrid teams have a great manager and players and will get over their respective humps. However, their current slump gives Barcelona the opportunity to build a lead, in case of hiccups further in the campaign, and the club will surely drop points at some stage. In short, a win on Saturday gives Barcelona some room for error.
Another interesting caveat to this current La Liga table is the strength of teams not named Barcelona, Real Madrid, or Atletico Madrid. As mentioned before Sevilla sit only a point behind third place and the biggest surprise of the current year is Valencia. Led by Marcelino, Valencia have revitalized their team and are sitting in second place with 24 points from 10 games. A trip to the Mestalla awaits too, Barca head to Valencia on November 26.
Often times, the biggest critique of La Liga is the lack of competition present throughout the division. It seems as though this year, all teams are playing great football and truly challenging the heavyweights of the division.
Ultimately, a slip-up versus Sevilla could come at an inopportune time for Barcelona, with the club left to stew over the international break and unable to respond immediately. Therefore, with a chance to maintain or build upon their perfect start, it is imperative that Valverde maintains the motivation in his squad.
Let’s also not forget that Barcelona still have Ousmane Dembele due to return. With a big lead the club will have the luxury of slowly easing him back into the lineup and reinvigorating their attacking play.
With both domestic rivals in a slump, Barcelona can ease the pressure off themselves further in the campaign by building a large lead. Is this current squad up to the challenge? Only time will tell… Visca Barca!