Can you spot the lowest point in the graph? That was when FC Barcelona bought a young Brazilian called Ronaldinho.Although he was injured for the first half of the season, he came back later when Barca was languishing in the 2nd half of the table and almost single-handedly led to an astonishing turnaround. Barca finished 2nd .That was when world took notice of Ronaldinho. Me too. That was also the time when my love affair with FC Barcelona started. Next two seasons Barca won the Liga.In style. They won Champions League too. 2006-07 & 2007-08( yeah that extended line I made in paint) were two seasons when Barca woefully underperformed and even then I was unwavering in my devotion for them. That is when I realized that my football club loyalty had come of age.
Ronaldinho is gone. Barca is back. Camp Nou is back too. When we were becoming used to the sight of the half empty stadium ( that would still be 50,000 people) with people waving white handkerchiefs(Traditional way to show disgust in Spain) Barca decided to start playing well. Obscenely well.And Saturday night when I started watching Barca-Valencia at 2.30 A.M. in a half-asleep state I was completely awakened in few minutes. I am not sure what it was - scintillating display of football or the packed & noisy Camp Nou. There were roars, there were chants. Yes Messi still has the largest share of chants & understandably so, but Xavi, Eto'o, Alves,Bojan, Puyol and now even Henry are frequently being vociferously praised by the Camp Nou crowd- and that defines Barca this season. Everyone is genuinely contributing. Everyone is hungry.Even the coach.
To give you some idea of how well Barcelona is playing:
- FCB is currently top of the league with a 6 points difference between them and 2nd placed Villarreal
- FCB has been unbeaten in last 20 games!
- FCB has scored 44 goals in14 league matches; much more than any other team. You can calculate the average. Including the Champions league games in the analysis will only push the average up.
- If FCB has scored the most they have conceded the least too. Only 9 goals in 14 matches. Cheers to Valdes!
- This makes the goal difference of FCB equal to a mindblowing 35 which is exactly equal to the sum of goal differences of next 4 teams namely - Villarreal, Valencia, Sevilla & Real Madrid.
- Samuel Eto'o is the leading scorer of the league with 14 goals.
Oh and what about Real Madrid? Funny to recall the statement that Great Bern Schuster ( RM coach) made when they produced some enterprising wins earlier this season : "Real Madrid is so good that we toy with other teams." Now look who is being toyed?
Currently Real Madrid is 5th in the league. Currently Real Madrid is pissing in their pants - because they are going to face Barcelona in Camp Nou THIS WEEK.
December was being touted as the "Horror Month", "The Grand Slam" or "The Month of Misery" because the big 5 teams in La Liga were supposed to play each other. Well by the looks of it , misery is only for the teams who have faced or about to face Barcelona. FCB defeated Sevilla away 3-0, FCB defeated Valencia home 4-0. FCB to face Real Madrid and Villarreal in coming weeks.
Sure this Barca is not the dream team of early 90's ( with Guardiola, Koeman, Hagi, Laudrup, Romario etc). Sure Messi is still not what Ronaldinho was. But they are getting there.
I am obviously thrilled. And plan to remain the same in the second half of the season too.