5 Best Barcelona players this season
"This a long process and there is room for improvement, but in the nine years that I have been here, it is the first time that I feel inferior to Madrid. We are not in the best moment, either as a team or as a club. We must stay as close as possible and keep moving forward."
When Gerard Pique uttered these despondent words just moments after getting hammered by Real Madrid in the Super Copa - the traditional curtain-raiser to the domestic season in Spain - Barcelona looked down and out of it.
Ernesto Valverde inspired no confidence while the lack of brand value amongst the summer signings stung as much as the departure of Neymar Jr. to a direct Champions League rival... half-a-season on and things couldn't be more different at the Camp Nou... In fact, they haven't lost a single game since.
Because there have been so many good performers wearing Blaugrana this season, it's hard to whittle it down to five, but here's our pick for the five best Barcelona players of the season.
#5 Sergio Busquets
The Catalan heartbeat of Barcelona looked a shadow of his old self last season, the emphasis on the 'galactico' forward line taking the ball away from Busquets' natural habitat and he suffered because he wasn't able to control the tempo of the game.
This season, Valverde has brought the focus back into the middle of the park and Busquets has reverted to his old self. The opener in the season's first El Clasico highlighted this beautifully - it was Busquets' interception and recovery followed by his graceful swanning away from three markers that freed up Rakitic and ended with Suarez smacking it into the net.