It’s early October and the season is still young and only ten games old. Conventional wisdom has it that Europe’s most coveted club trophies are won neither in October nor November nor December. But rather, the biggest titles in club game are accumulated at the tail end of the footballing season- April, May, June.
And yet, a great start to the campaign could reasonably be a great sign of things to come. It is for this reason that Barça’s brilliant start should fill culers the world over with optimism. Not only have the team avoided defeat in ten games, winning 8 while drawing twice, but also there have been games in which the quality of football on display as well as the result were simply outstanding.
Consider, for example, Barça’s back-to-back resounding five-nil wins against Real Betis in La Liga and Antwerp in the UCL. These were highly entertaining games reminiscent of earlier and happier times where FC Barcelona’s excellence was simply unrivalled. These victories tasted sweet. These victories demonstrated what this current crew of players are capable of.
New signings settling in well
Let it be known that the new arrivals have bedded in remarkably. And so while the team has temporarily parted with Ansu Fati, Joăo Félix shows up for free and slots in seamlessly. Truth tellers would be quick to admit the Portuguese youngster is playing some of his best football in Barcelona. At times there have been slight traces of Neymar Jr in how Félix dances with the ball at feet. At times it has felt that the winger has been a Barça player all his life. And in only a few weeks, Joăo Félix has rendered all the conjecture of Barça not being a place for him laughable. It may only be a loan deal, but the Portuguese is fast becoming the object of desire for Barça.
Furthermore, the displays of Cancelo and Gundogan as regular starters have immeasurably improved the general quality of the team. Observe Cancelo mix with the midfielders in the middle of the park. Observe Gundogan link up play and produce incisive passes in the final third. Beyond doubt, this team is playing as a functioning unit, a unified whole. And from here, things can only get better.
In no way should Oriol Romeu’s contribution in defensive midfield be overlooked. He has integrated well with the rest of the group, likewise Inigo Martinez. The veteran’s addition beefs up the centre-back options. The occurrence of injuries and suspensions will not leave Barça so exposed in that position.
Ferran and Lamine Yamal as new ‘additions’
The return to prominence of Ferran Torres is great news for the Barça fraternity. He may have lost all self-belief some months back. He may have struggled to find his best form last season. But these days the winger continues to make the difference for both club and country. These days Ferran has rediscovered his joy and love of football. And then there is wonderkid Lamine Yamal who now has the world at his feet at only 16. The early signs are good, and he could be decisive for Barça at the business end of the season.
As the season further unfolds and games come thick and fast, FC Barcelona’s resolve and resilience would be tested most. The greatest battles still lie ahead. The biggest prizes remain available to be won. The start to the campaign has been great, but the team would have to maintain this positive momentum up until when this season draws to a halt.