Let’s not beat about the bush here. Barcelona’s next three games will more than likely define their season.
It’s difficult to judge which is the more important. Two La Liga games against Valencia and Real Madrid or the Champions League test against Dynamo Kiev.
Camp Nou used to be a fortress. Impregnable.
Now teams arrive in Barcelona believing that they’ve got a chance of all three points, and that’s criminal.
Given the stature of all three fixtures, the first question that needs to be asked is if Ronald Koeman is up to it?
Copa del Rey results notwithstanding last season, the Dutchman was generally poor with his game plans and tactics in the ‘must win’ matches. Even those that appeared, on the face of it, to be a guaranteed three points towards the end of the campaign.
When the going gets tough, he rarely gets going.
Valencia are the first of the trio to arrive, and provided culers turn up in their droves, it will be the first match for over 18 months where the Camp Nou could be at full capacity.
The addition of those extra voices, the extra support, a fervent home atmosphere... it could be just what the doctor ordered.
Los Che sit directly above us on the same points (12) and with one more game played. They’ve also not scored more than one goal in their last four league matches, none of which they’ve won. Frankly, they’re there for the taking.
Real Madrid is always an interesting fixture, though in recent times Los Blancos have fared much better when playing at Camp Nou.
Even though they’ve not won in three, Karim Benzema is in fine fettle and, if Vinicius finds his shooting boots against the Catalans again, it’s difficult to see Koeman breaking his duck.
After not losing to the eternal rival for seven league games, losing a fourth in a row would be humbling indeed. Not to mention it would significantly impact on the ability to start clawing ourselves back up the table.
Dynamo is another kettle of fish entirely. Failure to get a positive result from that puts Barca in an incredibly dangerous position in the group. There’s little point in discounting them either because they’ve nothing to lose.
It’s time for everyone to step up and switch the narrative, and give culers some hope for the rest of the campaign.