Barcelona must grab unique chance of historical season

Barcelona have gone uphill ever since the turn of the new year. A rather mild start to the season has been followed by some blistering performances by the Blaugrana which has set them on course for an unprecedented treble. 

Just a week into the new year, already a lot had happened in Catalunya as Barcelona had gone into crisis mode. Luis Enrique's naive decision to start Messi and Neymar backfired as the Catalans succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at Anoeta. 

What followed later was bizzare as Barcelona got sucked into an institutional crisis. On the backdrop of this, there were some major fallouts between star players and Luis Enrique, who already was on the cusp of being shown the exit door. 

The pressure was on the team. Barca fans were hoping that this was just a momentary mess which had made them the laughing stock of Europe. A convincing response was needed. After pumping five goals past Elche in the last 16 of the Copa Del Rey in a lowly affair at the Camp Nou, the onus was on the Catalans to deliver some solid goods against defending champions Atletico Madrid. The game ended in a convincing 3-1 victory for Barcelona. The celebration of the third goal, with Messi, Suarez and Neymar running at the crowd shoulder-to-shoulder, has become the symbol of the Blaugrana's renaissance which followed. 

Since then, it has mostly been about victories as Barcelona are now in the final of the Copa Del Rey, in the semi-finals of the Champions League, and two points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table. 

Everything is rosy at the Camp Nou, as Luis Enrique has turned the corner in astounding corner and has established himself as a fan favourite. Barca have reached this position by defeating the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain by playing a mixture of devastating counter attacking football and our traditional possession game. 

The major change Enrique has injected in our play is that of more verticality. The team makes more instant switches from defence to attack and buries the ball down the net in no time with minimum fuss. Messi-Suarez-Neymar, the Three Amigos, have established themselves as the most deadly trio on the planet simply embarrassing almost every defence put in front of them. 

Luis Suarez, who endured a difficult start to life in Spain, is firing on all cylinders with some crucial goals, which include the winner against Real Madrid, two goals at the Etihad against Manchester City and two goals against PSG in Paris. His success has been down to his unselfish attitude, as he draws defenders to him paving spaces for his compatriots. The Uruguayan also has had his fair share of assists. 

Neymar, after a subdued first season, has simply silenced his critics in every possible manner. The Brazilian can be proud to be only behind Messi and Ronaldo in the La Liga goal scoring charts.

As for Lionel Messi, he remains as effective as ever. 

The defence also deserve their fair share of praise. Barca's resurgence is to be credited to Pique's own resurgence. The elegant Catalan remains solid as rock at the back, simply impenetrable at times. Summer signing Jeremy Mathieu has impressed in his debut season with some crucial goals in the Clasico and against Celta Vigo. Javier Mascherano remains versatile as ever, ready to play in defence or in midfield. 

The goalkeeping pair of Claudio Bravo and Marc Andre Ter Stegen have been simply astounding when called into action. They have been the Blaugrana's steal deal. 

However, the road ahead still remains very tricky. Barcelona face Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the Champions League as Pep Guardiola, the man who won them their first ever treble, stands in their way of repeating that feat. 

In La Liga, the penultimate clash at the Calderon against Atletico Madrid still remains, as Real Madrid remain hot on Barca's heels. 

Barca face Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa Del Rey and although this may seem a bit easy in theory, Enrique's men cannot afford to take anything lightly as the Basque club have already defeated the likes of Real Madrid this season.

The Barcelona show must go on!

Published by Mihir Bhagwat, columnist for You can follow him on Twitter @MihirBhagwat11