Rayo Vallecano are quickly coming over the horizon for Barcelona, and nothing less than a big win in their league opener will satiate culers who have been dazzled by a brilliant pre-season.
The buzz is back make no mistake about it.
As many of us have seen with our own eyes, there’s every reason to be optimistic too. Feeling like this ahead of La Liga 22/23 has been a very long time coming and, frankly, it feels magnificent.
The new signings appear to have settled in well and though the big tests are yet to come, starting the way that they have will give the team confidence.
Perhaps this season more than any other, however, a Barca coach, in this instance Xavi, will have to use his squad to its fullest.
There is genuine strength in depth in many positions now and if the Catalans expect to be challenging for honours once more, then there can be no skulking around because minutes are being liberally applied across the board. Everyone has to be pulling in the same direction.
That includes one player that would have every right to be aggrieved but who has been the consummate professional.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was sensational for Barcelona in the second half of the 2021/22 season.
Even having to play second fiddle to Robert Lewandowski hasn’t dulled his desire in front of goal, and the firm rebuttal of potential Chelsea interest hints at where the loyalties of the Gabonese lay.
A player that was the main man in a striking sense last year and who is probably going to have to settle for the subs bench for the most part this season.
What an option to be able to bring from the bench when required mind. He will start games of course, but perhaps not as many as he might like.
His connection with Ousmane Dembele last season was one of the major success stories and if Lewa doesn’t gel in quite the same way initially, seeing Auba pushing the Polish international all the way will only be of benefit.
I’m prepared to stick my neck out and say that he will again be one of the success stories of the forthcoming campaign, and maybe even the difference maker in the big moments.
Barcelona are, without a doubt, a much stronger outfit with him in situ than without.
Roll on Saturday!