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Barcelona must hit the ground running in 2019

No first game of the year wins since 2014

FC Barcelona v RC Celta de Vigo - La Liga Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Well hello 2019!

Barcelona will be hoping to get off to the best possible start in the new year with a win at Getafe, a team who have caused them difficulties in the past, even if results tend to show otherwise.

At this stage, unlike last season, there really is no margin for error. Despite a heavy Copa del Rey schedule to contend with - and I for one would like to see the kids involved in that particular competition - any points dropped in the next three to four La Liga games could see Barca being pulled right back into the chasing pack.

Interestingly, the Blaugranes haven’t won any of their last four games at the beginning of a new year.

Last January saw Barca draw 1-1 against Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey, but prior to that there were league draws against Villarreal (1-1, 2017) and Espanyol (0-0, 2016) as well as a loss at Real Sociedad (0-1, 2015).

However, with only two league victories over Barca since 2005, and the last way back in 2011, the odds are heavily stacked in our favour for the trip to the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.

Only two losses all season suggests much the same, whatever the doom-mongers might have you believe.

Ernesto Valverde is likely to have the last fixture there in mind though - when it took a late Paulinho goal to hand Barca the three points against a dogged opponent.

With the fixture falling on King’s Day, a more traditional time for the giving of presents in Spain, the Coliseum has sold out and one can be assured the locals will be in fine voice. Twelfth man and all that.

In the return at the Camp Nou, they emerged with a creditable 0-0 draw, in a game that many expected to be a hefty home win, particularly as the last time they’d met in Barcelona the hosts had hammered them 6-0.

Valverde has spoken to the official site over the new year period, setting out the challenges that await his side and what his expectations are.

Those demands will be in place from this very first game back, as they should be, and woe betide any player that just wants to ease themselves back in to the picture after their week off.

Sevilla play Atletico in their first game of 2019, and Real Madrid certainly won’t find things easy the week after at the Benito Villamarin.

With the greatest of respect to Getafe, Eibar and Leganes, Barca can take a decent advantage into February if they have the right mind-set, and aren’t tripped up as they have been at this stage of the year in the past.

Happy New Year? It just might be...

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