With a 5-1 thrashing of Real Madrid, Barcelona have completed a set of fixtures so difficult that some fans had October down as a “month from hell.” Valverde’s men, even at times without Lionel Messi, have gone through these matches in scintillating fashion.
It started with an away trip to face Tottenham Hotspur on the 3rd, then another away match, this time against Valencia in La Liga 4 days later. Next came league-leading Sevilla on the 20th, and then Inter Milan on the 24th, before el clásico on the 28th. Given Barcelona’s irregular form, and the eventual absence of Messi, these could have been some very dire moments.
Instead, Barça won every match bar one, and every one of those wins came with at least a two goal advantage.
Barça do have one more match left this month, on the last day of October. But that’s in the Copa del Rey against lowly Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa. Of course, anything could happen, but it would be a massive surprise if the third-tier side can get a result against even a heavily-rotated Barcelona.
The team blew away Tottenham 4-2 at Wembley thanks in large part to a superhuman Messi performance. Then, Barça had to labor to draw 1-1 against Valencia, with Messi scoring the leveler. Messi carried on his super form against Sevilla; the Argentine star scored one and assisted another inside twelve minutes. But with less than half an hour gone, Messi injured his arm and had to go off. Up to this point, the team’s fortunes were entirely dependent on Messi. And while the blaugrana did enough to win the match 4-2, there was a genuine question of how they would cope in his absence.
But Valverde’s men continued on their upward trajectory, with Rafinha in the lineup, against Inter Milan. Rafinha got a deserved goal, stamping his name on the teamsheet for the Real Madrid game. Jordi Alba was sensational and scored, too, to end the match with a 2-0 victory for Barcelona.
And Barça carried that momentum into el clásico. The debates of old seemed to wither away as easily as los blancos did. The question of Semedo or Roberto seemed to be both - Roberto was great as a starter, and Semedo had great impact off the bench. Alba carried on his magnificent form. Piqué got back to his best, and Lenglet and Arthur proved they are worthy to start for Barça. The other substitutes, Ousmane Dembélé and Arturo Vidal, continued to make their case for more playing time. Ter Stegen was mostly unperturbed but did well, while Rafinha was solid. Luis Suárez was red-hot, Coutinho scored, and Busquets and Rakitić dropped masterclasses. All that, with Messi in the stands.
They said October would be full of Halloween horrors, but Barcelona were Michael Myers - indestructible..