It has been a strange season so far. We started the season well enough and went into the first El Clasico in Madrid as league leaders. Despite good results under new coach Luis Enrique, there was definitely a feeling of waiting for Luis Suarez’s suspension to finish so that our season could really start. Losses in El Clasico and against Celta Vigo cost us the leadership of
La Liga. The fact that our great rival Real Madrid was winning 22 games in a row only made our position appear even bleaker.
Barcelona's struggles culminated with a depressing loss at Real Sociedad. What made that game’s disappointment worse was that loss came a few hours after Real Madrid’s winning run finally ended at Valencia. Real Sociedad was a strange game. Luis Enrique made the baffling decision to start Messi and Neymar on the bench and was widely criticised for doing this. There were rumours of a fall out between Messi and the coach. It was far from certain that Luis Enrique would survive. There were stories of behind the scenes damage control trying to stop our club from completely imploding. It was a worrying time for all Barcelona fans.
Fortunately, it all turned around in the next La Liga game with a superb 3-1 win against Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou. Goals by Neymar, Suarez and Messi gave us the victory which turned our season around. The photo of the trio celebrating our clinching third goal has symbolised our turnaround and gave rise to them being referred to as The Trident. Some people have said that Messi, Neymar and Suarez may be the best forward line any team has ever had. That may be a bit premature but it is not a ridiculous statement.
Since that game, it has been mainly more victories. A 2-1 home win in El Clasico coupled with a few much appreciated Real Madrid setbacks means we currently have a 5 point lead over our eternal rival. However, Madrid still have a game in hand and have the head to head advantage in the event of the two teams finishing level on points. In effect, we are only 1.5 points ahead of Madrid. To win the title, we must match Madrid’s results for the rest of the season. If they win every game, we need to as well.
It has been a similar story in the other two competitions. Wins in the ties with Atletico Madrid and Villarreal have seen us qualify for the final of the Copa Del Rey to play Athletic Bilbao. The usual Spanish debacle about where to play the final has given us the added advantage of playing the game at home at Camp Nou on May 30th. Barcelona are obvious favourites to win but I take nothing for granted. The game still needs to be won.
In the Champions League, we have eliminated two quality teams in Manchester City and PSG to reach the Semi Final where we play the mighty Bayern Munich. In our home first leg, Barcelona fans will get the chance to welcome home our former player and coach Pep Guardiola. It will be difficult but our current good form, especially by the aforementioned Trident, gives us cause for optimism.
So here we are. We could win three, two, one or even zero trophies. For me, the dream scenario would be one of Barcelona beating Real Madrid in the Final of the Champions League on June 6th thereby giving us The Treble. However, that is still a long way away. Until then we need to take things “partido a partido” (game by game).