Just a few hours after the deadline day madness has died away, Barcelona have already set their sights on their next challenge in the league, namely the match against Sevilla. Following the 4-0 trashing of Real Valladolid, the Catalans are heading into the game in full confidence, while Sevilla’s poor early form augurs a tough challenge for the Andalusians to prevail in the derby of the weekend.
Date: 03, September 2022
Time: 09:00 PM CET ( Barcelona )
Venue: Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan
Competition: La Liga ( Matchday 04 )
Fc Barcelona’s last outing against Real Valladolid felt like a feast of satisfaction for the ravenous fans of the Blaugrana, in fact, was the delivery of a must-taken result from a team predestined for much bigger things. After years of suffering, Barcelona is back in its former glory, and what once seemed a rare, salient result, now has to be set as a simple, general expectation.
The base concept Xavi applied since his takeover has been bolstered with top quality additions this summer like Lewandowski, Raphinha, and Koundé, in order to increase the ceiling of the system and enhance the individuals in itself, maximizing performance through harmony.
After a slow start of the season, Xavi’s team finally starts to gain momentum as they have won their last 2 games, with an impressive, +7 goal difference. In fact, this is the highest in the league so far, in addition, the Blaugranas have also accumulated the highest xG difference. It should be noted, though, that only 3 games were played so far, which provides a small sample to draw broad conclusions.
Nevertheless, our attacking play seemingly works, and the individual performances play a huge role in this. Lewandowski leads the charts with 4 goals scored, and besides his prolific finishing, his creative contribution in possession values up his performance further. Raphinha, whose Brazilian flair is a joy to watch, constantly threatens the opposition defenders and is the main creator on the wings alongside Dembélé. Ansu Fati showed again a glimpse of his bright talent, and hopefully, he will continue it on a more frequent basis, as his careful recovery allows him to do so.
In plus, the deadline day did not pass without the club making some late deals before the window closed on September 1st. While Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned to the Premier League to join Chelsea and Martin Braithwaite left for local rivals Espanyol, Barcelona secured two experienced players for the fullback position, namely Marcos Alonso and Héctor Bellerín. With that, the squad depth has increased, which could mean much in such a chaotic and packed season that we are facing, filled with a World Cup and a strained, 2 games-per-week autumn calendar.
Talking about Sevilla, their awful start of the season is the consequence of a mixture between already present but well-covered problems and a rather underwhelming transfer window. Their play showed some flaws even last season, but a huge overperformance masked the problems well as they were even in the title race for some time – though, they never had a real chance to win it.
But now, some crucial departures sensibly hit the team’s dynamics. The Andalusians lost their starting center-back partnership, which played a crucial role in Lopetegui’s philosophy. Diego Carlos left for Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa, while Jules Koundé, ironically, joined Barcelona’s ranks. In fact, replacements have been signed in the name of Galatasaray’s Marcão, who we already met in the Europa League last year, and the talented young Frenchman of Bayern München, Tanguy Nianzou. It can still prove to be a beneficial deal in the long run, but currently, it doesn’t seem good.
In the attacking section, Lucas Ocampos left the team for Ajax, while Jesús Corona suffered a long-term injury, which will force the Mexican winger to the sidelines for months. Alas, the shredded talent of Real Madrid, who was once deemed as the Golden Boy, Isco is no more the player he once was, despite the fact that he finally escaped from Madrid. And, neither is Adnan Januzaj the player that will work wonders but another one in the list of fallen wonderkids.
Far be it from me to disparage the ability of these players, but these moves reflect well a growing issue in the squad. The team that once was a seemingly inexhaustible fountain of talent recently started to dry up, and the club associated with the extremely profitable business of youth management is slowly becoming an aging group of mediocre players. Did Monchi’s magic run out or did they just turn the money tap off from above? Or it is the end of a cycle, and a natural change would make the team flourish again? Only the future will tell.
Nevertheless, Sevilla is a team that should never be taken lightly, simply due to the ability of the squad which, compared to a random mid-table team, is still eminent. That said, Barcelona is seemingly the clear favorite, but knowing the style of the hosts, a second-intent perspective could benefit them more, which can cause an interesting game for the fans to watch.