Let us rewind to August 16, 2017. Barcelona had just lost to Real Madrid 2-0 in the Super Copa second leg, and 5-1 on aggregate. The reaction to the two games was poor; fans and pundits claimed that this would be the Barcelona we would see throughout the entire year after Neymar left. Since then, Barcelona have lost just two games in the entire campaign.
Football changes quickly and each day. From the beginning of the season, Barcelona were consistently doubted, but they showed up every week except for one game. Did Ernesto Valverde certainly make some tactical mistakes against Roma? Yes. Did Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez disappear at a critical time? Yes. But, in a season where many people predicted zero trophies and a round of 16 Champions League exit, Barcelona have proved their doubters wrong.
First, Barcelona have already booked their spot in the Copa del Rey Final against Sevilla. As Sevilla showed against European giants Manchester United and Bayern Munich, they are a side to be reckoned with. But with Barcelona’s squad, they will be considered favorites to lift the trophy yet again.
After the Super Copa, many decided that the title would lie in Madrid this year, whether it be Real or Atletico. With 31 games played so far and only 7 remaining, Barcelona has an 11-point lead over Atletico and a 15-point lead over Real. Barcelona showed that even without one of the world’s greatest superstars, Neymar, their class and desire to prove us wrong was there and still is.
Yes, the defeat against Roma was horrific. Many players described it as the worst loss of their careers and it might have been Andres Iniesta’s last Champions League game. Barcelona looked disjointed and simply not up to the task of keeping their 4-1 lead safe.
But, when looking at this campaign as a whole, we have been given the opportunity to win two trophies, one more than Madrid have the chance to win. In essence, Valverde has surprised us with his tactics, Philippe Coutinho was signed, we are booked in a final, and are in first place by 11-points. The game versus Roma was not great by any measurable variable, but our campaign still has the potential to be victorious. Visca Barca!