As Barcelona prepare to entertain Alaves on Saturday evening, Ronald Koeman will know that his side are reaching their most crucial period of the season.
Two goals down in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals against Sevilla, their task to get to the final is an incredibly difficult one, but not impossible.
Particularly as their injured players are soon to return.
A win over Alaves, and Barca can at least keep the pressure on the teams around them in La Liga.At the moment, the title is Atletico Madrid’s to lose. Five points ahead of second-placed Real Madrid and with two games in hand, Los Rojiblancos can get themselves almost over the line by the end of March if results continue to go their way.
However, they do still have to play the Madrid derby, and play each of Sevilla, Barca and Villarreal once more.
A reverse or two in those games and it starts to lift the teams around them and, as everyone knows, getting to the summit in a league isn’t the hard part, staying there is.
Knowing that every team you play is coming for you, ready to knock you off of your perch.
Diego Simeone is a wily enough old campaigner to marshal his troops well enough to negotiate what’s to come, but there are sure to be bumps in the road along the way.
Having played 10 games away in all competitions already in 2021, the Alaves game is just the second that Ronald Koeman’s side play at the Camp Nou this year.
That should see a run of home games upcoming for the Catalans and, though there are no supporters in the stadium, there’s every chance that playing in their familiar surroundings hands Barca a crucial advantage.
We’ll know more in a month’s time when the final six weeks of the campaign come into view.
Away from domestic assignments, Paris Saint-Germain arrive in Barcelona next week looking for revenge.
It’s already been four years since Barca’s epic 6-1 second leg comeback against the French giants, but PSG are still smarting from the worst night in their history.
Losing Neymar is a huge blow for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, as is the injury to Angel di Maria.
They’ve still got enough about them to win the tie over two legs, but Barca are building up a head of steam and, in this competition at least, it’s all about momentum and that’s certainly with the blaugranes at this point.