Barcelona: Make mine a double (again)

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Another season in Spain is over and Barcelona has claimed another double success, having clinched both La Liga titles and the Copa del Rey. The past nine-months have been thrilling, with the league title going down to the final day but once again, its Luis Enrique’s men that are setting the standard.


When Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez joined Barcelona from Liverpool for €81 million in the summer of 2014, many eyebrows were raised that a player who, despite being brilliant in front of goal, could be a handful in the dressing room and would he be able to fit into the close-nit family at the Camp Nou. Two years later and two league titles plus two Copa del Rey and a Champions League, proves beyond any doubt that he is the world’s best frontman of his generation. This season he has surpassed all expectations, 40 goals in La Liga is an astonishing total and it was fitting that his final-day hattrick against Granada, should hand the Catalan giants their 24th domestic league success. A hamstring injury in Sunday night’s Copa del Rey success over Sevilla was a sad way to end a terrific campaign but rather than creating a divide in the dressing-room, the 29-year-old has galvanised the players around him to up their game.



Early April was a desperate time for Barcelona. In the space of two-weeks, they lost the home Clasico to Real Madrid, went out of the Champions League to Atletico Madrid and lost top-spot in La Liga to the Diego Simeone’s men. Game over on the betting exchanges right; of course not. Wednesday April 20 marks the day that the race for the league title took another dramatic turn, as Messi conducted the orchestra around him to inspire Barca to an 8-0 away win at Deportivo La Coruna; Suarez grabbing four of them. Just three days later, he helped himself to another four as Sporting Gijon were dismantled 6-0 at the Camp Nou. The next victims were Real Betis, beaten 2-0 on their own patch before city rivals Espanyol were spared humiliation, as Messi and Co decided to go easy on them by only knocking in five. Three more at Granada on the final-day completed the comeback as title rivals Real and Atletico Madrid dropped vital points, as their attentions turned to the Champions League Final. Five straight wins, 26 scored and none conceded, people have suggested that Messi has taken a drop in form this season, his goalscoring may have taken a back-seat (only 26 in the league!) but he’s now maturing into a leader on the pitch and around the club itself.



The third part of world football’s deadliest strike-force is Neymar. When the campaign started last August, a lot of pressure was on the Brazilian superstar to raise his game and he did this quite brilliantly; taking control when Messi was injured towards the end of 2015 and helping himself to 24 league goals along the way. Playing alongside Suarez and Messi has helped the 24-year-old massively, allowing him the chance to revel in the role of creator as well as goalscorer. All this has been played out to a backdrop of constant rumours about a potential move to Paris Saint-Germain this summer, but the player has just focused on the job in hand and left all the speculation to the press. Just last week, the Catalan newspapers were reporting that he was close to a contract extension at the Camp Nou; expect to see Neymar wearing the famous colours of Barcelona next season.


Once again this season, Barcelona are reaping the rewards of their famed youth academy with the latest stars off the production line making their bow. 20-year-old striker Munir has made 15 first-team appearances this season (scoring three goals) and has been a regular starter in the Copa del Rey matches. Another frontman, Sandro Ramirez, has also broken into the first-team ranks over the past nine-months having been utilised from the substitute’s bench on 10 different occasions. In midfield, both Sergio Roberto and Rafinha are now establishing themselves as able deputies for Andreas Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic with 21-year-old Sergi Samper, one to look out for next season.


The focus for the club now turns to the summer transfer window with many high-profile names being linked as possible arrivals. Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba has been constantly talked about as the player most likely to be starting next season at the Camp Nou; his cause however, may not have been helped by former playing legend Xavi, who stated that he thought the French international didn’t have the right attributes to play effectively in the current team. Another French midfielder, Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante and his Leicester City teammate Riyad Mahrez are two more names mentioned in despatches by football correspondents throughout Europe. The truth is, at the moment, it’s time for Enrique to take a well-earned rest whilst many of his current players head out to the Copa America and Euro 2016 Championships before the squad gets back together in July. The Catalan giants will once again, be clear favourites on the best football betting sites to continue their domestic domination next season.


La Liga: *P 38 W29 D4 L5 GF 112 GA 29

Champions League: P10 W7 D2 L1 GF22 GA 8

Copa del Rey: P9 W7 D2 L0 GF 27 GA 5

Top Scorers (All competitions)

Suarez 48

Messi 29

Neymar 27

*Key to symbols; P (Played) W (Won) D (Drawn) L (Lost) GF (Goals for) GA (Goals against)

Steve Mitchell @barafundler