The title race continues to heat up in Spanish top flight as Barcelona narrowly defeated Athletic Club 1-0 and Real Madrid claiming all three points at home against Mallorca.
1) Barcelona needs to overhaul their midfield and defence ahead of next season It has been a long time coming but it is more than obvious at the moment that Barcelona are in dire need of a squad overhaul if they are to sustain their domestic dominance, talk more of rising to the pinnacle of football once again. The midfield which has been the heartbeat of the club in the past cannot even be compared to a shadow of its former self.
Before his injury woes, we have seen enough of De Jong to be convinced that he is not Iniesta and Arthur is no Xavi.
In defence, Gerard Pique is not the same player and Lenglet is not Carles Puyol despite keeping four consecutive clean sheets since the return of the La Liga.
Barcelona need genuine quality again and must spend in the summer to avoid a catastrophe from happening soon.
2) The Barcelona attack is not any better
Barcelona also have a lot to think about in attack. On paper, they have a very solid attack that should dominate the Spanish top flight but football barely thrives on paper these days. Messi continues to carry the weight of the team on his shoulders and he is showing signs that age is getting the better of him. Suarez has also been on the wane for a while and Barcelona needs serious competition for places in his position if they are to take the bulk of the goalscoring responsibilities off Messi’s shoulders. The presence of a firing centre foward would have made a profound difference in the fortunes of the Catalans.
The Blaugrana’s reliance on Ansu Fati is also a testament to the the growing need for reinforcements in attack even if the teenager has performed incredibly anytime he has been called upon. Griezmann is not the same player. These days it’s difficult to understand if he fitting into Barcelona is the problem or the inability of the team to conform to his style of player on the pitch. Many would argue that it should ideally be the former but then Barcelona may have to make a decision over his future soon. Dembele has spent more time on the treatment table than he has on the pitch in his Barcelona career and it’s highly unlikely that he will have any impact on the title race.
3) Vinicius is on fire. When big hitters like Bale and Hazard are expected to lead the title charge for the Los Blancos, it is Vinicius Jr that has been making the headlines for the Capital City side. For the second game in a row, he has got the man of the match award and got on the scorers sheet twice. He probably wouldn’t have picked his form at a better time. Seeing Hazard brought off while he remained on the pitch for 90 minutes was the highlight of it all.
4) Vamos Ramos Ramos always makes the headlines for the right and wrong reasons and this season has proven to be his most productive career yet. His delightful free kick on the night is evidence that he’s not just a gritty defender but also a fine footballer. He is one of the best defenders in the world if not the best at the moment.
5) Title Race may drag into the final day.
This season looks like one of those seasons in which the contenders have to wait until the final day to decide who claims the crown. Like Athleti and Barcelona in 2014 and Real Madrid versus Barcelona in 2016, the battle is primed to drag until the last minute of the season. You cannot look away from the possibility of this happening because both teams are level on point with only head to head statistics being the difference between both teams.
The title race is a very interesting one this season and it promises to get better in the coming fixtures. Barcelona have to be on their toes and must win games in their next matches against Celta Vigo, Athletico Madrid, Villarreal and Espanyol. Madrid on the other hand have to ensure they do not slip up against Espanyol, Getafe, Athletic Club and Alaves.