Barcelona FC will be back in full force again shortly. Their South American stars, Messi, Neymar, Suarez and Mascherano will return after having figured for their World Cup 2018 qualifying clashes featuring their home nations. The Blaugrana have a near flawless record after regrouping from international breaks having recorded 13 wins and 3 draws in the last five seasons. Their only loss was a shock defeat to minions, Hercules, 2-0 at home at Camp Nou in 2010.
Their Latin American stalwarts will be joined by their European teammates who also have been away featuring for their respective countries in the Euro 2016 qualifying round matches. The Blaugrana have had a mediocre couple of months running into their La Liga campaign of 2015-16. Losses to Chelsea and Manchester United in exhibition matches played in the USA was followed by a defeat to Fiorentina 1-2 in Florence, Italy. But they can put that behind them thanks to a thumping win of 3-0 against Roma in a friendly clash in early August.
Their La Liga campaign seemed to have begun well. They beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 in their opening match, avenging a humiliating loss to the same team earlier in August in a Supercopa de España encounter. This was followed by a 1 -0 win at home against Malaga.
Atlético Madrid have taken the exit of the mercurial Arda Turan (to Barcelona FC) in their stride. They have found an apt replacement in 28-year Colombian, Jackson Martinez, who was Porto’s most prolific scorer in the 2014-15 Primeira Liga season. Moreover, the presence of players like Antoine Griezmann, Diego Godin, Juanfran and José Giménez make Los Rojiblancos a very hard team to beat at the Vicente Calderon.
It was a tough match however and Barcelona beat Simeone’s men by 2 goals to 1. Neymar and Messi scored for Barça and Fernando Torres netted one for Atléti. Bitter rivals Real Madrid had a field day on their trip to Catalonia to play Espanyol. It was a game which saw Real net 6 goals with Ronaldo scoring 5 of them!
For up and coming games, Barcelona fans will feel very emboldened by the reinforcement of the Messi-Suarez-Neymar trio, although the departure of the attacking Pedro Rodriguez to Chelsea and injury to their first-choice goalkeeper Claudio Bravo will play at the back of their minds. Followers of Barcelona cannot be blamed for expecting an encore.