Dembele has vindicated Valverde’s trust

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There was a time, not so long ago, when Barcelona’s demanding fanbase couldn’t have cared less if Ousmane Dembele was sold or not.

Incessant newspaper headlines relating to poor timekeeping, a lackadaisical attitude and little effort being shown in training or in matches, meant that if his Barca career wasn’t hanging by a thread, then it wasn’t too far off.

That’s when Ernesto Valverde played his trump card. Continue reading

What will constitute a failure for Barcelona this season?

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What would constitute a failure for FC Barcelona this season?

It’s certainly a question worth posing. After all, there’ll be plenty of teams that would love to be in their position at this point in the season.

And yet, supporters and those loosely connected with the club still seem to be unhappy. Continue reading

How Barcelona will beat Man Utd

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They might be favourites to win the tie over two legs, but there’s no way that Barcelona will be taking Manchester United lightly, particularly at Old Trafford.

Playing at the Camp Nou for the second leg may seem to afford the Catalans an advantage of sorts, but Ernesto Valverde and his team will want to make that a formality.

In order to do so, they’ll need to take the game to the Red Devils and quieten the expected 75,000 crowd.

But just how are they going to manage it?

Continue reading

Can Barcelona win the treble?

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It’s the question that everyone wants to avoid, particularly at this point in the season.

Given that Barcelona are the only team in 160 years of football history to have ever done the treble twice – in a top league – then it’s not too much of a stretch to believe they have the experience to make it a unique hat-trick in 2018/19.

It would certainly cement this last decade as the ‘Messi era’ too. Continue reading

Time to stop the Messi/Ronaldo debate

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Here we are, in the wake of another Lionel Messi master class, debating once again if he’s the best or if that title falls to his nemesis, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Frankly, it’s becoming a pathetic comparison.

Each have a different set of skills and both are incredible players in their own right. To consistently have to compare one and the other is getting very tiring.

It’s blindingly obvious that one’s feats are what drives the other on, providing the biggest motivating factor.

There’s simply no need, when Messi writes the headlines, to even involve Ronaldo in the conversation. And vice versa.

Take Messi’s hat-trick against Betis.

There can’t have been too many other trebles that have included such incredible finishes, and maybe there are none at all.

But rather than dwell on just how brilliant it was, much of the Monday morning debate was filled by facts that are of no real consequence.

That Messi is still one career hat-trick behind Ronaldo, that the Portuguese has more Champions Leagues, that the Juve man is the highest scorer ever in the top European tournament…

They, and many other stats, are trotted out, parrot fashion as if to somehow reinforce that Messi will always be in Ronaldo’s shadow.

Messi’s supporters are always looking to denounce Ronaldo’s achievements too.

This endless quest for some sort of fanatical one-upmanship isn’t of any benefit, and moves the conversation away from the absolute fact that both players are in a league of their own.

They have been for years now, and though it’s become cliche to say it, football post-Messi and Ronaldo will be an interesting watch.

Generational talents, they will not be replaced, but someone, probably Kylian Mbappe, will take their crown at some point.

Perhaps then, and only then, will there be a full appreciation of what both players brought to their profession, and what’s more, did so for an unbelievable length of time.

It’s that consistency and longevity which is truly astonishing, but let’s stop throwing around the stats willy-nilly.

Who cares if one has more hat-tricks, goals or assists than the other.

Sit back, relax and enjoy what little time we have left to enjoy them because, in the blink of an eye, both will have exited stage left.

Valverde has to rest Barcelona’s big hitters now

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After another dominant El Clasico performance, and with the Champions League once again the priority, Ernesto Valverde must start tinkering with his squad.

His ‘safety first’ approach will need to take a back seat in a handful of the next few league games as Barca go for it in the European competition.

Though the Catalans can still conceivably be caught in La Liga, both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid are far enough behind for the Blaugrana to have a blip and still remain as leaders. Continue reading

Time for Barcelona to banish away day blues

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Here we are on the cusp of Barcelona’s biggest couple of weeks of the 2018/19 season.

At the time of writing, the match against Lyon is a few hours away, the first of four huge games for the Catalans, all away from home.

Following the trip to France, Ernesto Valverde’s side travel to Sevilla in La Liga before a double header against Real Madrid in the space of 72 hours. Continue reading

Barcelona’s incentive to end Real Madrid’s season

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There was a 50 percent chance of it happening, and once Valencia and Real Betis had been drawn out of the Copa del Rey hat, it meant that, yes, we were going to see a two-legged El Clasico semi-final.

Moreover, the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu precedes a league match between the two teams at the same venue just 72 hours later.

It’s the first time in Barcelona’s history that they will have played two consecutive games at the Bernabeu, and given their recent record there, the Blaugrana will be entirely confident of continuing their run of victories. Continue reading

Is a Copa exit a blessing in disguise for Barcelona?

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Wednesday night sees the completion of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals for 2018/19, and there’s little doubt that the fare on offer at Camp Nou will be required viewing.

Barcelona are 2-0 behind to Sevilla, and though they managed to turnaround a deficit in the last 16 tie against Levante, the Andalusian side is a different proposition entirely.

They’re also about as far removed from the team that were hammered 5-0 by the Catalans in last year’s final as it’s possible to be. Continue reading

Time for Barcelona’s kids in the Copa del Rey

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The draw for the Copa del Rey quarter finals has thrown up an interesting conundrum for Barcelona.

The Catalans have been paired with Sevilla for the two-legged tie, the Andalusians being one of, if not the toughest opponent they could’ve faced.

It will see a quick return to the Camp Nou for Munir El Haddadi, recently signed by Pablo Machin, and how he would love to put a spoke in the aspirations of his former side. Continue reading