It’s been a strange old season for Barcelona but one which is likely to prove successful.
Regardless of the way in which the team failed in the Champions League and were ultimately knocked out of the Europa League, winning the league title is always the barometer of success. Or at least it should be.
The best team over the course of an entire campaign, not just a handful of games where, when injuries bite hard, can often skew performance levels and, ultimately, results.
How much better could we have been in the last couple of months if we’d had both Pedri and Ousmane Dembele in the starting XI each week?
I’ve been a fierce critic of the Frenchman but he was flying pre-injury and easily our most dangerous player. Compare and contrast Raphinha’s output by way of example (and he’s been fairly decent too).
In 1521 minutes played this season, the Brazilian has six goals and four assists per Infogol, has taken 55 shots of which 17 have been on target. He’s also completed 602 of his 744 passes.
Dembele has five goals and five assists in markedly less time on the pitch (1182) and 14 of his 39 shots were on target. His passing completion of 482 from 572 for an 84% success rate also shouldn’t be overlooked.
Stats such as that matter. They should where improvements are needed and where others have been made.
Culers bemoan the fact that Barca are ‘only’ winning some games 1-0 or by the odd goal, but three points is three points, and we’re still on course to have the best defensive record in football history.
With 10 games left to play, there really shouldn’t be any fixtures that trip Barca up, with the possible exception of Atletico Madrid in just over a week’s time.
The five away games (in order) are Getafe, Rayo Vallecano, Espanyol, Valladolid and Celta Vigo, with Atleti, Real Betis, Osasuna, Real Sociedad and Mallorca visiting Camp Nou.
Osasuna might’ve normally presented a tricky proposition, but coming just four days before the Copa del Rey final, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team from Pamplona rest one or two main stars.
Complacency may well be the enemy of Xavi’s side as securing the title comes ever closer, but those nine goals conceded represent something valid for the defence particularly to hang on to.
The record, currently jointly held by Deportivo La Coruna and Atletico Madrid is 18 goals. Considering that three of Barca’s nine conceded so far came in the same game, there’s a very real possibility that Marc-Andre ter Stegen and his defence could hold a record that might never be beaten. That’s important as any amount of goals scored too.
As to when the title could be won... if Real Madrid keep pace with Barca for the remainder of the season, then the match against Espanyol will be the one which makes it mathematically impossible for Los Blancos to catch us.
The perfect way to end the season no?!