Luis Enrique’s Barcelona opened up a six-point lead over title rivals Real Madrid a fortnight ago with an emphatic 4-0 thrashing at the Santiago Bernabéu.
At the time it felt like I was the only one who not only expected the defending La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners to win El Clasico last month, but to win convincingly.
Friends were all leaning towards Real Madrid and even the conversation below on Twitter with gamblers, they all favoured the home side:
— Barrie’s View (@BarriesView) November 21, 2015
As I stated in the conversation, I had a small bet on Barcelona to win El Clasico:
Having seen a lot of both Real Madrid and Barcelona this season, I had not been convinced by Rafa Benítez’s defencel on too many occasions they had been bailed out by goalkeeper Kaylor Navas.
The Costa Rican didn’t have a chance versus the best attack in the world, regardless of Lionel Messi starting from the bench.
Neymar and Luis Suárez were on fire heading into El Clasico and continued that during the match. In my opinion, those two and Messi are playing better than Cristiano Ronaldo right now.
So how far can Barcelona go this season? I think they will win the remaining four competitions they are involved in to add to the European Sup Cup they won at the start of the season.
Barcelona have begun to blitz the league since a slow start to the season. Enrique’s side had won all four of their La Liga games by at least two goals prior to facing Real Madrid, and have beaten Real Sociedad 4-0 since, meaning they’re on a six-game winning streak ahead of their trip to Gary Neville’s Valencia this evening.
Ahead of Rea Madrid host Getafe and their trip to Granada late, Atlético Madrid in second place, four points behind the leaders. I respect the work Diego Simeone has done but I don’t see them being a serious title contender this season.
Both of these teams have also booked their place in the second round of this season’s Champions League. Atléti have already lost 2-1 at home to Barcelona in the league this season, so as the table goes by head-to-head record when teams are joint on points, you could say Barcelona are essentially four points ahead of the team below them and seven ahead of Real Madrid. League over?
FIFA Club World Cup
Without trying to sound too arrogant, the European club are going to be way too strong for the rest of the competition in Japan later this month.
Barcelona will have two games in Asia – the semi-final and then the final (OK if there’s a massive upset they could be in the third-place playoff instead).
The rest of the teams making up the numbers are River Plate (Argentina – 2015 Copa Libertadores winners), Club América (Mexico – 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League winners), Guangzhou Evergrande (China – 2015 AFC Champions League winners), TP Mazembe (DR Congo – 2015 CAF Champions League winners) and Sanfrecce Hiroshima (Japan – 2015 J League winners) or Auckland City (New Zealand – 2014-15 OFC Champions League winners).
I’ve seen River Plate a couple of times this season and they’re not the team some people may imagine in their mind. They even finished 9th in the 2015 Argentine league, 15 points behind champions Boca Juniors.
Fatigue should not be a big factor – the final is on Sunday 20 December, the same day as La Liga’s final round of fixtures before the 10-day Christmas break. Therefore Barcelona have as long a break as the rest of the Spanish teams with only one extra fixture to fit in over the second half of the season.
Copa del Rey
Not a competition I pay much attention to I must admit, but Luis Enrique’s side were comfortable winners in last season’s final. The matches en route are two legs so I simply cannot see any team causing an upset to the reigning holders.
Real Madrid have been kicked out for fielding an ineligible player so Atlético Madrid are the only real challengers to Barcelona. Some may argue Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla, granted, but I’m not convinced.
It’s a two-way race for the Champions League for me this season – Barcelona or Bayern Munich. Both are around 3/1 which is essentially an arb in my mind.
Bayern Munich have one massive advantage over Barcelona in terms of fatigue. The German side play four fewer league games, get a proper winter break and aren’t involved in the Club World Cup.
Pep Guardiola’s side have already got the Bundesliga title wrapped up too so they can afford to rest players either side of Champions League fixtures as they have been doing for the past couple of seasons.
The former Barcelona manager has yet to win the competition with the German giants though and was thrashed 3-0 in the first leg of their semi-final meeting last season.
Subject to some serious injuries between now and May, I’m favouring Barcelona to become the first team to defend the trophy in the Champions League era.
If you are a bookmaker, or know any offering odds on Barcelona to win all four of these trophies, please send me in that direction!