FC Barcelona has been destroying teams on two continents this pre-season and after watching them against Chivas of Guadalajara and New York Red Bulls I am wondering whether they are that good, or the competition they are playing is that bad?
In its first five pre-season games Barcelona scored 25 goals while conceding 6. And that is without Deco and Ronaldhino! Former Arsenal player Alexander Hleb has looked fantastic in the midfield alongside Xavi and Iniesta and all three look in mid-season form.
The last time I saw Barcelona play was in the Champions League semifinal where they lost to Manchester United because they could not score a goal over the two legs. Well scoring does not look to be a problem this year.
Up front Tierry Henry has looked sharp, especially when he plays a more central role instead of being pushed out to the left. Samuel Eto’o has done nothing but score goals. I am not sure what is the cause of the problems between Barcelona and Eto’o. but if I was Josep Guardiola I would look for ways to keep Eto’o at the Camp Nou.
What has been really impressive in watching Barcelona is the incredible young talent that they have. The Barcelona youth academy is probably the best academy in the world and they are producing some brilliant young footballers. Already we have seen signs of brilliance from Pedro, Jeffren and Busquets. Jeffren and Pedro both scored in New York against the Red Bulls and they look like they will be future stars for Barcelona.
If I was a Barcelona fan I would be optimistic that this year they will give Real Madrid at run for that La Liga title. My concern would be Barcelona’s ability to shut down teams. CD Guadalajara and New York Red Bulls are not the most high-powered teams in the world and they were both able to open up the Barcelona defense for two goals each. If Barcelona can tighten up its defense, then I believe that the La Liga title will return to the Nou Camp in 2009.