There’s still all to play for in this topsy-turvy 2021/22 campaign for FC Barcelona.
Xavi has somehow managed to turn a team devoid of confidence and any sort of real quality into European football’s form team.
The evolution of his squad has been remarkable to watch and an utter joy to behold at the same time.
They’ve shown that they’re able to completely dominate and overrun teams when required, or dig in and wait for their chances to arrive.
Ahead of their Europa League quarter-final second leg, Barca also have even more reason to celebrate.
After a real wobble mid-season, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is getting back to somewhere approaching his best form. Yes, he has a way to go but he’s on the right track.
The injury that had clearly troubled him for some time doesn’t appear to be much of a thorn in his side now, so Culers should look forward to some match-saving performances from the German.
Eric Garcia is another first-team star that is beginning to mature nicely.
The centre-back certainly didn’t get off to the best start in his Barca career, but has begun to cement his place in the back line.
With Gerard Pique likely to be out of the next couple of games at least, Eric now has an opportunity, however brief, to prove that he can form a capable partnership with Ronald Araujo.
A partnership that could eventually rival that of Pique/Puyol.
Perhaps the best news of all is the imminent return of Ansu Fati.
Barca’s great hope could potentially save the club millions in transfer fees if he can remain injury free.
There’s certainly no need at this stage for Messrs. Laporta and Alemany to be splashing out on a big name which may or may not work out.
Ansu deserves the courtesy of being given the chance to lead the blaugranes front line well beyond the end of this season.
And lest we forget that Pedri continues to dazzle us all, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has found the form that deserted him in his last few months in North London, Dani Alves is blossoming in the autumn of his career, Ferran Torres is finding his feet and Ousmane Dembele is playing arguably the best football of his entire career.
So much to look forward to… with perhaps Xavi’s only real problem being able to keep a lid on supporter expectation.