Following a summer of change, Barcelona find themselves in eighth position in the league standings, having grabbed four points from their first three matches. While this start is not catastrophic, the Blaugranes already find themselves five points adrift of the top of the table, where Atletico sit after earning maximum points.
Let’s get an understanding of Barca’s current predicament given their performances on the pitch as well as financial investment, and see what chances the champions have of topping the table come the end of the season.
Few can complain when it comes to Bartomeu & Co’s financial investment in the team. This summer’s transfer window saw several big-name arrivals at the Camp Nou. While the signing of Antoine Griezmann from Atletico cost the Blaugranes a hefty €120 million, they also splashed the cash to bring in Ajax’s key midfielder Frenkie de Jong, left-back Junior Firpo, right-back Emerson and backup keeper Neto.
In comparison, Atletico also spent a hefty sum on additions to their squad including a €126 million fee for Benfica’s Joao Felix, and a modest sum for Kieran Trippier. Marcos Llorente, Mario Hermoso, Renan Lodi, Felipe, Ivan Saponjic and Hector Herrera also arrived at the Wanda Metropolitano. Unlike Barca, however, Atletico also bade farewell to some of their big-name players. While Griezmann went to Barca, Lucas Hernandez departed for Bayern Munich for a massive €80 million. Rodri and Gelson Martins also left the club, while veteran left-back Godin went to Inter on a free.
Overall, while Atletico more than matched Barca when it came to new signings, they may have been damaged to a larger extent by departures. While the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Malcom were far from vital to the Blaugranes’ success, Griezman and Lucas Hernandez were important components of the Atleti lineup.
Paying no attention to scorelines, Barcelona have exhibited dominance on the pitch in each of their first three league games. Their ball possession has ranged from 71-75%, exhibiting sheer dominance in that regard. As for total shots, Barca took a grandiose 20 shots against Real Betis, and managed 11 and eight against Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna respectively.
In contrast, Atletico have enjoyed 57-59% possession in their opening games, and while this is still a majority, it pales in comparison to Barca’s input. Meanwhile, their shot counts have only ranged from a measly 5-7 per game.
When it comes to defence, Atleti are the side in control. They have only conceded two goals so far this season, while Barca have already let in five (the joint second highest in the league).
In addition to this, Atletico has outdone Barca in their ability to be clinical. Diego Simeone’s side have only scored five goals but have bagged three points in each game. Barcelona may have outscored Atleti but have dropped points twice. This goes to show that stats do little to affect the final scoreline if a team does not take full advantage of the opportunities they have.
How The New Signings Are Performing
Barca’s new boys have shown their worth in the opening days of the 2019-20 season. While De Jong seems to have been played out of position too often, he has shown promise as a Barca player, linking up well with team-mates and providing some silky passes. Griezmann has exhibited a high-work rate and decent control, and while he endured a tough start to life at Barca during pre-season, his patience is starting to pay off. The 28-year-old Frenchman has produced two goals and one assist in just three matches - a promising start to the season.
As for Atletico’s new additions, Joao Felix has enjoyed his start to life in Spain, bagging one goal and an assist. Trippier also impressed with an assist, as well as two clean sheets.
While Barca certainly show promise going into the rest of the season, the club is in need of a shift in mentality and fast. They are already five points behind Atletico Madrid and will not want to see that gap grow in the coming weeks.