FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are separated by two points. In Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, two world-class superstars chasing their dreams desperately. A two game home and away series with Bayern Munich to possibly reach the final. Two final decisive away games that can very well decide the La Liga champion. The number two seems to resonate throughout the Barcelona camp although players declare that they never look past this current week, there is a reason why in reality, they should.
Although the number two does sound fitting in these circumstances, it’s the trio or three that are creating the buzz around Catalonia and are causing rare occurrences of perspiration for upcoming coaches to face the Blaugrana. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar Da Silva Santos Jr, known as the Big Three to many, have created a chemistry that is unparalleled to anything people have ever seen.
A team that helped Claudio Bravo break a record of not conceding a goal in 630 minutes of La Liga play to begin the season were out maneuvering every obstacle in their way until winter. A sudden let down of the guard put the team in peril and Luis Enrique’s job in quite some danger. Things weren’t working out, Suarez seemed out of sorts and the constant changing of lineups left the team with no continuity and chemistry to build on, quite frankly the team was in shambles.
Yet, despite the growing angst of the media and fans these uncircumstantial events seemed to light a fire under the cauldrons of the Camp Nou.
Ever since that gloomy January 6th date during the first week of the new calendar year, this team has had an impeccable run of going 14-1-1 in La Liga play to this date. Many media personnel may attest this great form of run to the savvy Luis Enrique and his firm stamp onto one lineup unlike his trial and error philosophy as eluded to here, according to @barcastuff on twitter “Barcelona have started their first 28 official games this season with 28 different line-ups”.
The main culprit to place all this praise on in my opinion has to be El Pistolero, Luis Suarez. The glaring numbers of goals and assists to which many people classify as the highest importance don’t do this Uruguayan striker justice. It is more than the 19 goals and 11 assists in all competitions, it’s those glittering runs behind the defense that although he sometimes won't receive a ball to his benefit wears down a center back physically and mentally.
The constant high-pressure attitude that has been restored from the Pep Guardiola days is headed by Suarez, and is the motor behind the engine. His deceptive moves that although have been used countless times during his years in Ajax and Liverpool continue to fool defenders into lunging forward to eventually miss the tackle and looking back to the sight of the number 9, yards away from goal.
As the season winds down and the treble waits to be conquered, two men, the two Luis’ should feel vindicated for past failures/errors and be reconciled for their impressive ability to flip a switch and become hallmarks in this rollercoaster type of season.
One last thing that has been lost in all the hoop-la of the season is this team’s defense. In fact, Barcelona have scored 12 set-piece goals during the year 2015, more than any other Liga team”. These were once two areas of weakness that have been reassured.
On that note, here is a late development on the Jordi Alba front, as the Spanish left back was red carded by Mateu Lahoz this past Saturday. Players such as Sergio Busquetts have spoken to the media saying "To get a second card for that is absurd but we know Mateu, he wants to be a protagonist and that's what happened," he was quoted as saying by AS.
Also Sport are reporting that “Barcelona are angry about the attitude of Lahoz and the way he apologized to Espanyol after the derby, and think that they too deserve an apology after both Saturday, and the events of the previous year or so”.
Jordi Alba is expected to be back on the starting squad next Saturday as the team faces Cordoba.
Opinion piece by Alexander Del Valle, columnist for Barcablog.com. You can follow him on Twitter @AlexanderDelV