Barcelona are getting closer.
The business end of the 2020/21 La Liga campaign is almost upon us and Atletico Madrid won’t like the fact that Barca are breathing right down their necks now.
In the lead-up to the Copa del Rey final, the Catalans have three games that could potentially define their league challenge.
Come away from the Real Sociedad, Valladolid and Real Madrid fixtures unscathed, and the blaugranes will be in a wonderful position to challenge the Rojiblancos over the final weeks of the season.
Better to be the hunter rather than the hunted.
Despite all of the shenanigans at the beginning of the season, which Lionel Messi himself was a huge part of, once it became clear that the Argentinian was staying at the Camp Nou for at least one more season, he promised that he would continue to try his best.
He’s been as good as his word.
In this rollercoaster of a campaign, Messi is the one player that has continued to deliver on a weekly basis.
Two goals and an assist on Monday night, all of which were masterful in their delivery, underscored another hard-working individual performance.
The team deserve plaudits too. Shaky in defence at times, something which Ronald Koeman will continue to work on, the high press, patterns of play, passing and movement were all of a sufficient enough standard as to be acceptable.
It’s often forgotten with the young players just how long it takes them to blossom, particularly at a club like Barcelona.
Let’s not forget that when Xavi and Andres Iniesta were trying to force their way into the team two decades ago, they had to wait an awful lot longer than some of the current youngsters.
That many of them have acquitted themselves well speaks of a future for the club that looks a lot brighter than it did six months ago.
A future that Messi has to be a part of, even if only for a further one or two years.
If he were to move to pastures new, it does open up the possibilities for others, though it would probably have an adverse effect on the squad for a while and set the project back somewhat, as they navigate matches post-Messi.
If, however, there’s a willingness to remain, the chances are that he’ll leave the squad in a much healthier position given that players will have 12 or 24 months extra experience.
After his masterclass against Huesca showed once again that he’s still the man, Joan Laporta needs to pull out all of the stops now.