Barcelona undoubtedly have the best forward line in world football and are still gunning on all fronts with a treble in sight. Copa Del Rey finalists, Champions League semi finalists and heading towards their seventh La Liga title in ten years. Many would think Barca would sweep the board, but recent form suggests otherwise.
Luis Enrique’s men should be out of sight domestically, despite holding a three point lead at the top with six games to go they have only managed one point from a possible nine. Atletico lead the chasing pack on 72 points in second place, whilst their neighbours, Real Madrid, a further point behind on 72 points respectively.
One month ago many would have had Barcelona favourites to win the Champions League after they brushed aside Arsenal with a footballing masterclass. However, a narrow 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid leaves their tie in the balance as they travel to the Vicente Calderon for the second leg, with Atletico carrying a precious away goal.
Recent league form has also been a worry and results do not suggest those shown by champions. A 2-2 draw away to Villarreal was thought to be a slight bump in the road. However, the journey appears to have had many more twists and turns than anticipated following a damaging 2-1 ‘El Clasico’ defeat at the hands of Real Madrid which closed the gap at the top, before Real Sociedad heaped more misery taking all three points in a narrow 1-0 victory in April.
Having played 12 games more than any of their La Liga rivals this season, the schedule appears to be taking its toll on Messi, Suarez and Neymar. All have been in scintillating form with 69 league goals between them in 32 games.
On countless occassions we have seen the familiar front three carry Barcelona out of trouble and brush teams aside. However, two games a week and more time being given to recuperation and recovery, Barcelona seem to have tired and dropped off and perhaps become too reliant on their ‘MSN’ trio to deliver.
Lionel Messi appears to be dropping deeper and playing almost as a midfielder as he looks in need of a break and appears to lack the sharpness he had earlier in the season.
Luis Suarez appears has excelled even further at Barcelona in his debut season at the Spanish club following his move from Liverpool. His 42 goals in all competitions has illustrated his importance and his reputation as the best striker in the world. However, he was missing for their game against Sociedad at the weekend and without his presence in attack, Barca lacked a cutting edge.
Meanwhile, Neymar appears to lack that extra gear that Suarez and Messi have when they need him most. His 21 goals have been key as his relationship with Suarez and Messi continues to blossom.
It will certainly be interesting to see if Barcelona can turn around their recent dip in form. However, qualification on Thursday night in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid may just be the kick-start they need at just the right time before a run in which will dictate their success this season.
Tickets to watch Barcelona take on Sevilla in the Copa Del Rey Final are also available to purchase online today.