Barcelona has started off their season in fine form, not letting any points escape them and burying goals left and right. RealSport takes a look at what has brought about this surprising success and any weak points Blaugrana may have.
Results so far
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Barcelona is doing nothing short of dominating their opponents in both their domestic league and in the Champions League and have only conceded twice.
Scoring 23 goals in just seven games into the La Liga season, Barca has shown that despite the loss of Neymar they still possess a wealth of attacking power. Messi alone has scored almost half of Barcelona's goals and has three assists in domestic competition.
In the Champions league, Barcelona have ridden the wave of momentum they have mustered up from La Liga. Though only two games have been played the most notable one came against last years finalists Juventus. Once again Messi highlighted in their win against Juventus, one that surprised everyone across Europe.
Have they been tested?
Sure the Catalan side has been dominant, to say the least, but outside of their great performance against Juventus should we be applauding the club for winning games they should have won?
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The table above looks at the teams Barcelona has played in their first seven fixtures, besides the team name we can see what position on the table their opponents were sitting on the day of competition. Barr the first week of competition when the whole league was on the same level with one another on zero points. After that first week, Barca has yet to play a team in the top half of the table.
At first glance, 23 goals may seem like the club is doing superbly, which they are but not against teams who are much of a challenge. When Barcelona's players return from international duty, they will have their first test against Atletico Madrid, one we will all have our eyes on.
New signing status
Barcelona's biggest signings this season was the youngster from Dortmund, Ousmane Dembele and, a veteran from China, Paulino. The latter has been superior to his younger counterpart.
Dembele came from Dortmund and was supposed to be the replacement for Neymar but seven games into the season and he could not showcase any signs of doing so. The French star has only had 51 minutes of game-play over the course of two matches in La Liga and was able to muster up one assist in that time. Unfortunately, the youngster with a £94.5 million transfer fee ruptured his thigh muscle against Sporting CP in Barcelona's second Champions League match. Dembele is expected to return around the middle of January next year.
Barcelona's summer signing that had fans in a frenzy asking why, and had critics thinking how desperate can they be, has turned out to be one of the clubs more fruitful signings this summer. The Brazilian midfielder came to Barcelona from the Chinese League on a whopping £36 million transfer fee, considering his age and at the time undermined capabilities. Since his arrival though, Paulinho seems to have found the fountain of youth as well being a match-saver, scoring goals late on. He has many goals and assists as striker Luis Suarez, not so bad for the price point.
As of now, Barcelona is looking like their usual selves in some aspects, but a broken team in others, particularly the midfield. Messi, of course, has gotten it done for La Blaugrana, scoring 11 goals so early on but why hasn't Suarez gotten in on the fun? Suarez's dry spell may be okay for now, but the pressure will keep mounting come time for Barcelona to play this bigger clubs in La Liga and those they face as they get deeper into the Champions League.
Andres Iniesta has been the unsung hero of the club for quite a few years now and his absence shows the disconnect in attack as Barcelona work from the defensive third up to the attacking third. Messi can only play so much before a full workload takes its toll on the Argentinian. Finicky players such as André Gomes need to step in and show up as the season progresses if Barcelona wants to compete for every trophy in sight. How and if Valverde can integrate Dembele back into the side in January will go a long way to deciding Barca's fate, but that is a question that can be answered only then.
The true tests of this club's performance have yet to be seen. Though they have toppled Juventus, key players from the Italian side were missing and their presence could have altered the match. Nonetheless, kudos to Barcelona for pushing on despite losing their Brazilian star. We hope to see another close race for the title just like that of last season.
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