Once the international break is over and done with, Barcelona will resume their assault on the La Liga title, and whilst they remain four points behind leaders, Atletico Madrid, they’re certainly the form team of those towards the summit of the Spanish top-flight.
Valladolid are next up at the Camp Nou, and whilst no opponents can be taken for granted, three points will certainly be expected from Lionel Messi and Co.
Then comes the big one. El Clasico.The battle between Spain’s top two is always the highlight of the season, and despite a lack of fans in this campaign, this one will be no different.
It was also be the first senior El Clasico in history to be played at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium within Real Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground complex.
This particular edition has even more significance than usual.
With only a handful of league games left afterwards, if either team drop points they would conceivably be out of the title race, unless Atleti suffer a late season collapse of their own.
Whether or not Ronald Koeman can guide his team to victory in that match or any others, and whether or not they win the title or the Copa del Rey, the Dutchman deserves the plaudits.
That they are in the position to be fighting for two titles in any event is down to him.
Yes, the players go out and do the work on the pitch, but if poor results lead to the consequence of a manager’s sacking, then so decent results should mean that it’s the man in the dugout who gets the recognition.
The amount of players that he’s brought through the youth system and utilised, as well as those youngsters that have been signed, takes an element of bravery, but Koeman clearly took a ‘this or bust’ approach and the risk has brought reward.
Ultimately, Koeman’s studious tutelage of his squad could be the one thing which helps to secure Lionel Messi for another couple of years before he decides to see out his final seasons elsewhere.
On top of everything else good that’s happened, that would surely be the icing on the cake for all Barca supporters, and president, Joan Laporta, would owe his first team manager a huge debt of gratitude.
In the meantime, Koeman’s focus will solely be on the next few games which will arguably author the rest of Barca’s season.