Last season the same time round Barcelona were vying for the treble playing three major competitons,Two domestic and one for the big prize,The Champions League. They eventually went on to win the La Liga and Copa Del Rey completing a domestic double and ending a pretty good season. The only disappointment was not being able to defend their Champions League title.Being knocked out by rivals Atletico Madrid over two legs. Eventhough European ambitions weren’t fulfilled they managed to have a pretty good season.
This season though,the situation has not been the same. They are one point adrift of Real Madrid in the league with two games more played. Real Madrid have two games to spare in case they slip up in the course of the seasom. Altough the Catalans have breezed past certain league opponents,scoring at will they haven’t been able to catch up. With Atletico Madrid in close pursuit and a huge setback against PSG ,Barcelona may be in for a rocky few months ahead.
Matters are now for the worse as Barca stare at an early Champions League exit against Paris.4-0 down in the first leg,PSG would need to concede 5 and score none if Barcelona have to go through. One away goal from the French outfit should seal the deal. If any team can turn this around from the jaws of defeat it’s Barcelona.Nonetheless if they are able to do so it would be absolutely remarkable.
The only positive over arch rivals Real Madrid has been their progress in the League cup. Real got knocked out by Celta (4-3 agg).Whereas Barcelona knocked out Atletico Madrid to go through over a controversial disallowed goal from Antoine griezmann in the second leg draw. Kevin Gameiro also missed a penalty in the game.
What has been going wrong?
At this point of the season Barcelona can take nothing for granted. On one hand the League is still not bagged up and European dreams crashing on the other.The next few games are absolutely crucial and slipping in those would mean a huge mountain to climb.Barcelona have lost games against Celta ,Alaves,Manchester City(UCL) , Athletic Club and drawn against Atletico Madrid(league and CDR),Malaga,Real Sociedad,Hercules(CDR),Real Madrid,Villareal and Real Betis.This shows the vital points they have dropped in the league’s just to the advantage of their rivals.
Barcelona have always been a team with high expectations and more often than not they have met those soaring expectations with the help of their deadly trio up front in Messi,Suarez and Neymar.But against PSG even they looked powerless. A combination of effective pressing and energetic closing down helped PSG to avoid any of them to get away. The defence looked lathergic and completely out of shape against a quick PSG side.Maybe a case of undestimating their opponents.
This has been the case in a few occasions this season. Barcelona haven’t been a complete team as they were last season.They have showed amazing football bad have got in their natural flow but in patches against certain opponents.Eventhough they stand second in the league winning it doesn’t look as easy as it should be by their standards.Luis Enrique has been criticised of playing with a rotated eleven game after game and he has been criticised nonetheless.Partly due to injuries and also the sheer number of matches these palyers play.The fixture list isn’t easy.Enrique has been a decently successful manager with European achievements with Barcelona in his CV.But now he has to get the resurgence done as soon as possible.
Barcelona face Leganes and Atletico Madrid in the next couple of games.These games would be absolutely vital for their league ambitions. They would also hope that the leaders,Real Madrid would slip up against the likes of Espanyol and Villarreal. Real’s immediate attention will be for the game against Napoli.Enrique has to back his side and hope for the best in Europe.They would need a monumental effort to go past PSG after the recent debacle.
You can never write off Barcelona can you? One of the best teams in Europe would never want to be second best.Barcelona also play Alaves in the cup final which would be a major chance of some silverware. All is not lost,definitely.But to salvage things Barcelona will have to make amends and hope some major results in the league go in their favor.