Sitting pretty at the top of La Liga for at least the next five weeks is precisely where Xavi Hernandez would have wanted his Barcelona side to be.
Given the various injuries he’s had to contend with, and patchy form from one or two of his high profile stars, it’s hard to argue against him having made a sterling start to this campaign.
Thirty three goals scored is as many as Real Madrid, and only five conceded (three against Los Blancos) is, by a distance, the best in the Spanish top flight.
Drill down into the detail, however, and you see that against the top teams, Xavi’s coaching nous has been found wanting.
Notwithstanding a brilliant demolition of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu last season, Barca under their former midfielder have failed spectacularly in the big games.
Eintracht Frankfurt last season, Bayern Munich and Internazionale of Milan in 22/23.
It’s an inescapable conclusion at this point certainly, that there’s something missing when the going gets tough.
What’s interesting is that the team in the main is a hungry, ball-playing unit that is, perhaps, suffering from an inferiority complex in certain situations.
How else can you explain the various capitulations when week in and week out in La Liga, the Catalans are routinely taking on all comers and getting the job done - at times with one hand tied behind their back.
Looking at the squad overall, particularly in light of Gerard Pique’s retirement, Xavi has a young group to work with, peppered with the requisite experience.
Despite its youth, the XI and wider squad, are more than comfortable against any opponent, they just haven’t yet worked out a solution to every problem.
Will a new signing or two in January solve those issues? Potentially. Though change has to come from within.
Xavi needs to change it up a bit. Subs on the hour mark are so regular it’s embarrassing, and more often than not those same subs don’t offer anything extra.
Clearly something is working though because you don’t get to the summit of La Liga by luck alone.
And it’s worth also tipping a hat to Xavi for the effect his style of play is having on attendances at Camp Nou. I mean, it’s an infinitely better product than it was 18 months ago, and people are happy again to pay their hard earned to watch exciting football.
We just need some big results and some silverware and the jury won’t be out any longer…