Following the 5-0 trashing of the third-tier Ceuta side in the Copa del Rey, Barcelona return home to host Getafe in Camp Nou. The Catalans are looking to extend their unbeaten run with a potential victory, as they are yet to lose following the World Cup break.
Barca News Network brings you four talking points ahead of the match against Getafe.
1. Positive momentum
After a disappointing 1-1 draw against Espanyol, Barcelona slowly started to recover their pre-World Cup form. Although an extra-time winner from Ansu Fati against the third-tier Intercity saw them advance to the next round in the cup, the play left much to be desired.
Xavi, however, prepared his team well for the next clash against Atlético Madrid, and it reaped its rewards as the Catalans came out victorious in another close affair with Simeone’s men. The control still had its flaws, but the backline put on arguably the best defensive performance of the year. Keeping the net silent against Atléti’s relentless attacking waves, Ousmane Dembélé’s goal decided the crucial 3 points in our favour.
Next up, Real Betis posed another tough challenge for the Blaugrana. The Andalusians fought well to equalize twice, pushing the game first to extra time, then to penalties. In the shootout, the Catalans showcased a different kind of strength, concretely the mental stability in these extremely pressuring moments. Marc-André ter Stegen crowned his impeccable performance with 2 saves in the shootout, flying the Blaugranas into the final of the Super Cup.
Exactly a week ago, Barcelona met their eternal rivals in the final of the Spanish Super Cup in Riyadh. The Catalans annihilated the Blancos with an utterly dominant 3-0 score, and Benzema’s goal in the dying minutes could serve just as an ephemeral consolation for the embittered Madrid fans.
With that, Xavi’s team reached the gold for the first time. Hopefully, it’s just the beginning of a glorious, successful era, where many more will follow. Accordingly, Barcelona continued their chase for the next trophy, edging closer to the Copa Del Rey with a 5-0 win over Ceuta.
And now, they are set to return to the La Liga stage. As Real Madrid previously bottled against Setién’s Villarreal, Barcelona became the lone leaders of the league, with 3 points clear at the top. Getafe, who are far from their best days, will probably pose an easy challenge to overcome for Xavi’s men.
2. Ansu vs Ferrán: opposing trajectories
Moving onto the Blaugranas, the frontline offers much to dissect. The only certainty is that Robert Lewandowski continues performing as the Catalans’ greatest star in the striking position. The rest two places on the wings are up for grabs.
On the right, Raphinha has been excellent lately, registering 4 G/A since returning from the World Cup break. Dembélé is still an extremely inconsistent player, but one who can be purely magical on his day.
But the left side is an even more interesting case. After the World Cup break, the young number 10 has been on a resurgent form, reminiscent of his old self. With each passing game, he started to grow in confidence, which he lacked so much following his severe injuries.
On the contrary, Ferrán Torres is visibly losing his self-confidence game by game, after another weak performance from the Spaniard. While Ansu is on the rise from such a difficult situation, Ferrán is digging himself deeper and deeper into the depths of insecurity, self-doubts and unconfidence.
It’s sad to see such a downfall from a player predestined for much bigger things, however, this kind of mental strength is somewhat required at the top level to achieve your goals.
You don’t have to look far away: for a great example, just look at Ansu. How he rebuilt himself after successive severe injuries, facing such mental challenges with hard work and determination is truly inspiring. Maybe this is the way Ferrán should look at.
3. Kessié on the rise
The midfield is probably the most stable point in Xavi’s system, with Gavi, Pedri and Frenkie providing exceptional long-term solutions. Busquets is one foot outside Barcelona, while Pablo Torre is still just a young prospect rather than an established squad player. What would be a more ideal situation for Kessié to break in?
While he felt the most out-of-place from the summer signings, the Ivorian has caught the eyes with his recent performances. The ex-Milan midfielder seemed to understand his surroundings well, registering two assists in the last match against Ceuta. Maybe his time has finally come, and the dedication to fight for his place is paying off very soon.
4. Bellerín: a proper competitor?
Another summer signing that enjoyed moderate success previously, Héctor Bellerín is finally showing signs that his move was worth it. Against Ceuta, the former Arsenal man has been simply excellent, suggesting that he’s ready to compete for the starting spot.
Both in defence and attack, Bellerín produced an impeccable performance, which either Koundé or Roberto may be envious of. Indeed, the modest quality of the opposition moderates the result, but don’t sleep on him, he is coming for that right-back spot for sure.