Even though Futbol Club Barcelona has been dominating domestic competitions in Spain over the last few years. However, one trophy that the Catalan Club are desperate to acquire again is the UCL. Since winning it for the last time in 2015, they lost out in the Quarter Final stage in the two succeeding seasons. Furthermore, finding themselves victim to two historic comebacks at the hands of Roma and Liverpool.
But can the team finally break the 5 year jinx and bring the coveted trophy back to the Camp Nou? Let’s find out. Here are a few reasons to get excited about…
THE PLAYERS FIND THEMSELVES IN MUCH BETTER SHAPE.
The enforced break from football due to the Coronavirus Pandemic came at a pretty good time for Barça actually. Before the break the players looked tired and worn out. Moreover, they have a limited squad depth (18 First Players plus 17 yr old Ansu Fati). Many important players (Messi, Pique, Busquets, Suarez and Alba) are more than 30 years old. However, the players have had an excellent time with their families at home. They returned in a much better shape after the 3 month unscheduled break. First team players Jordi Alba and Marc Andre ter Stegen, who has always been demanding more from the players in training, have publicly discussed the same.
KEY PLAYERS WILL BE RETURNING FROM INJURIES.
Let’s think about a scenario in which the games would happen in the original schedule. In the months of March and April, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and young Ansu Fati would have been the only options in attack. With Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele being long term absentees due to injuries. For now, Suarez has already recovered from his knee injury and may receive medical green light anytime soon. Whereas Dembele should just recover in time for the Champion’s League in August. The team will be massively boosted by the return of the duo.
THE TEAM WILL HAVE MORE TIME TO IMPLEMENT SETIEN’S IDEAS.
Quique Setien started his job as the FC Barcelona head coach in the month of January this year replacing Ernesto Valverde. With the 61 year old Cantabrian coach barely having any time to spend with the players and implement his ideas. He went on to manage just 12 matches within a span of 2 months since arriving at the club. But the break gave him and his staff ample time to work upon the players. Therefore helping them in transition as well as to execute his plans perfectly. The month long training period which is still ongoing can be considered as a kind of pre-season.
SIGNS OF A STRONGER MENTALITY.
One key aspect that any team needs to win big tournaments like the UCL is a strong winning mentality. We have seen the team crumbling under pressure not once but twice in the last two years. But there have certainly been signs of improvement in their mentality. They twice came back from being behind to beat Real Betis 3-2 away from home. They also drew against strong Napoli side at Stadio San-Paolo in the 1st Leg of the Round of 16. Also notching up a crucial away goal in the process.
SINGLE LEGGED TIES.
It’s almost certain that the remaining matches beyond the Round of 16, which will obviously be played behind closed doors. Moreover, there’ll be single legged ties and not the usual home-away double legged ties. This change comes to reduce the amount of international travelling as well as to cope up the loss of time. This gives Barcelona a massive advantage over other teams. As they have shown on multiple occasions, they can beat the best teams in the world in a one-off match. Like Liverpool at home last season.
OVERVIEW OF THE SQUAD.
The strongest point in the team has to be the frontline. It is blessed to have the likes of Messi, Griezmann, Suarez and Dembele even though they haven’t been at their best during the entire course of the season but can be lethal for any defence in the world at any given time. The team also has a good mix of youth and experience in Midfield which consists of youngsters like De Jong and Arthur as well as Busquets and Vidal, the veteran campaigners. However, the team is weak in defence. The fullbacks, Semedo and Alba, were inconsistent whereas Pique and Lenglet are the only reliable Centre Backs with Umtiti struggling with persistent injuries and Todibo out on loan at Schalke 04.
DESPITE HAVING PROBLEMS AT THE BACK, FC BARCELONA POSSESSES ENOUGH FIREPOWER TO BEAT ANY TEAM IN THE WORLD ESPECIALLY IN ONE LEGGED TIES. THEIR CHANCES TO WIN BACK THE CHAMPION’S LEAGUE HAVE CERTAINLY IMPROVED AFTER THE RESCHEDULING AND THEY CAN CERTAINLY BE CONSIDERED TO BE ONE OF THE FAVOURITES TO WIN THE TOURNAMENT IF NOT THE FAVOURITE.
Visca el Barça i Visca Catalunya !
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