After a chaotic summer that left Barcelona feeling relatively low going into the new campaign, it’s fair to stay the club have so far surpassed expectations.
Most notably Barcelona’s new additions have been in blistering form and have helped propel the team to an amazing start. Since the two losses to Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana, Barcelona have won six matches in a row, scoring 20 goals and conceding only three.
While there are several contributing factors for this start, none more important than Lionel Messi, the players surrounding the Argentine must be given credit as well.
The most controversial signing of the summer was of course Paulinho. But in addition to scoring the winner against Getafe, Paulinho started the game against Eibar yesterday and posted some impressive statistics - as shown by Squawka:
Paulinho's game by numbers vs. Eibar:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 19, 2017
100% tackles won
37 passes completed
Paulinho’s towering header was reminiscent of a particular Carlos Puyol header and showcased something missing from the squad in previous seasons, a strong, physical presence.
In addition to his goal, Paulinho played several key passes freeing up players, and set up one of Messi’s goals. His little dummy in the build-up to Denis Suarez’s goal was also pretty special.
While two games against weaker competition such as Getafe and Eibar cannot be reason for too much excitement, if Paulinho continues this form, he will gain the trust of the fans, the manager, and will continue to help the team.
Nelson Semedo has also proven a stunning buy. Similar to Paulinho’s physical comparison with Carles Puyol, Semedo has displayed qualities similar to Dani Alves.
Once again the right-back position again has a marauding player capable of overlaps, key passes, and the necessary quality to make a true difference in games.
While somewhat overlooked, Semedo’s price tag in this delirious market may come to seem like the steal of the transfer window in a couple of years, similar to Ivan Rakitic’s from a couple of seasons ago.
And then there’s Suarez…the first name that comes to mind is Luis, but against Eibar, Denis made a wonderful case for additional minutes in the games to come. Of course he’s not a new signing but this is surely a crucial season for him if he is to have a future at the club.
While Luis Suarez has so far looked lost on the wings in the first few games, Denis opens up several avenues for this team.
His passing so far has been superior to that of Luis, along with his movement on the wing. With two goals in two games, he seems to plug in naturally there, even though you suspect it’s not his favourite position.
And last, but certainly not least, we have Gerard Deulofeu. Picking up where Dembele left off, Deulofeu produced creativity and skill on the right wing. Yes he was dispossessed several times and yes he sometimes lacked the quality to deliver the final ball, but Deulofeu’s invention should not be underscored.
Hopefully, with more time and confidence, that creativity will be paired with the necessary skill, and Deulofeu can develop into the player we all once thought he could be.
Ultimately, while pundits, fans, and experts all considered Barcelona’s squad depleted and the transfer window a disaster, this group of players is so far proving everyone wrong.
If players on the fringe of the starting XI such as Denis and Paulinho can continue producing, Valverde will have a big selection headache, but one he probably won’t mind having at all.
In order for the team to compete for all trophies, competition for starting spots is a must; and so far in this young season… that competition seems to be prevalent throughout the entire squad. Visca Barca.