Two great wins, two clean sheets, two tough opponents, and seven goals. Barcelona have come flying out of the gate under Ronald Koeman, winning six points against two traditionally tricky opponents, Villarreal and Celta Vigo.
Ansu Fati has been deadly in front of goal while Lionel Messi has been inspiring, but in truth the whole team looks much more in tune and comfortable. Even going down a man against Celta, away in the rain, didn’t seem to trouble Koeman’s men too much.
Philippe Coutinho has flourished since returning from Bayern Munich, where his stock had actually dropped. The defense that gave up 8 goals to the Bavarians has actually held up well, not conceding any goals even though Marc-André ter Stegen is injured.
The team in general seems more fluid and energetic, with Luis Suárez, Arturo Vidal, Nélson Semedo, and Ivan Rakitić gone and a switch from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1. Still, only three of those actually started last season in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages. And of the 11 who started against Villarreal and Celta, only Coutinho was a new face.
Off the bench, it was another story, with Francisco Trincão and Pedri coming on for both games. The two youngsters will get more chances, as will the veteran Miralem Pjanić, who has at this moment only played in one game. New signing Sergiño Dest could also become an essential building block, as could perhaps other signings that have yet to be completed, and other players who are at the moment not seen as key pieces and could even leave, could instead become important parts of the rotation (such as Riqui Puig, Ousmane Dembélé, and Carles Aleñá.
In any case, we have heard this story before. It seems every time a new coach is hired, we hear optimism about how the team is training harder, pressing harder, and working better. It doesn’t always last. Still, after two brilliant matches, it’s hard for culés to not feel excitement.
Sevilla are a team that's been playing very well to this day and perhaps this match will be a good early test to see if this team is for real. Let's see what happens.