With this year on the verge on ending, we have come to the conclusion of the first half of the 2018–19 season. Let's look at how FC Barcelona has fared in the two major competitions - La Liga and Champions League.
After 17 games, FC Barcelona are at the top of the league with 37 points. They are 3 points clear of their closest rivals, Atletico Madrid, who lie second with 34 points. They are 8 points clear of their arch-rivals, Real Madrid, who sit at fourth although they've played a game less. Barca have won 11 games, drawn 4 and lost 2.
The Catalans have been the highest scoring team in the league with a whopping 48 goals scored. They, however, have conceded 19 goals and as many as five teams have conceded less than what Barca have.
Overall, FC Barcelona have been pretty good in La Liga and are certainly improving as they have kept clean sheets in all of their last 4 games in the league. With the signing of Murillo, they have further bolstered their impressive squad and winning La Liga won't be much of a problem for them.
Rating (till now): 8/10
In the Champions League, Barca found themselves in a tough group which included Spurs, Inter and PSV. All the team are good teams capable of beating each other. All the matches have been played in group B and FC Barcelona and Spurs have qualified for the Round Of 16. Barca was the first team in the Champions League to have secured their berth in the Round Of 16. They topped the group with 14 points, 6 points ahead of the second ranked Spurs who had 8 points. This shows how dominant Barca were in the Champions League.
FC Barcelona scored a whopping 14 goals in the group(highest) and conceded just 5 goals(lowest). Messi is the second highest scorer in the competition with 6 goals from just 3 starts. The team has even managed to win against Inter and PSV without their talisman, which shows that all players have been performing well.
They have been drawn against Olympique Lyon in the Round Of 16 which will start from February. Although Lyon is a good team, the Catalan outfit should not have any problem in getting the better out of the French club.
To conclude, Barcelona looks like the best side in the Champions League and are the favourites to claim the trophy for the best club in Europe. So, there is nothing to complain about in the Champions League.
Rating (till now): 9/10
- Marc Andre ter Stegen (8/10): He has been brilliant between the goal post for Blaugrana in spite of the few errors he has made during the season. Nevertheless, he remains key to FC Barcelona's rest of the season.
- Jasper Cillessen (7.5/10): He has played very less, but whenever he has, one can only feel bad for him as to how unlucky he is that he isn't able to start. He has been performing great and with a lot of games coming up, Cillessen remains a key player.
- Thomas Vermaelen (6.5/10): He has been decent whenever called upon, but has been getting injured too often.
- Chumi (5/10): He was solid in a game in Copa Del Rey but needs to play more to evaluate him properly.
- Samuel Umtiti (6/10): For the most of the season, he has been out with injury and when he was fit, he didn't look like the defender who was a World Cup winner. He needs to improve once he returns from the injury as he is a key defender for the team.
- Clement Lenglet (8/10): Many may object to me giving him such high rating but that's how good he's been. He has stepped up in Umtiti's absence and has hardly made any mistakes. He has only been improving and I think he has been FC Barcelona's best centre-back this season.
- Gerard Pique (7.5/10): Pique hasn't has his best season as he has often been making mistakes resulting in goals conceded but still has returned to his best form in the recent games and we hope that he keeps playing well as he is very important for FC Barcelona.
- Juan Miranda (5.5/10): He has played very less but he has been showing signs of improvement in his game. With hectic schedule coming up, Miranda needs to be trusted more and he also needs to step up.
- Jordi Alba (9/10): Alba has been phenomenal for Barca this season and has been FC Barcelona's best defender. He has an excellent 7 assists in all competitions which shows how effective he has been going forward and has defensively been solid as well. He needs to be rested more in the coming games so that he is not fatigued as crucial games are coming up.
- Sergi Roberto (7/10): He has been good at the right back position but he has been injured lately. He is on the verge of returning and his versatility will be very important considering the big chunk of games coming up.
- Nelson Semedo (7/10): Semedo, after Roberto's injury, has been Barca's right back in all the games. Although initially he wasn't able to contribute much while attacking, he has been improving and has looked great in recent games.
- Denis Suarez (6/10): He has been pretty decent in the limited chances given to him, but he doesn't look like he is gonna break into the first team owing to great competition in midfield.
- Rafinha Alcantara (6/10): Like Denis, he has been pretty good whenever given chances and he also looked to cement his place in the first team but another injury happened and he has been ruled out for the whole season.
- Riqui Puig (5.5/10): A very promising player with a huge future, he has barely played for the first team and when he did, he provided an assist. But it's still too early to evaluate him.
- Carles Alena (6/10): He has now been fully integrated into the first team. Although he has played less, him importance for the club is only increasing and he has even scored his first goal for the first team.
- Ivan Rakitic (6.5/10): He has been consistent as he always is but has missed some games due to injury. He, however, remains a key player for Valverde and will play a big role in the remaining season.
- Arthur Melo (7.5/10): Everybody was surprised with how quickly Arthur became a starter for FC Barcelona and his stellar performances were compared to the a legend, Xavi. But then the injury happened. However, he is back now and will look to get back to his form.
- Arturo Vidal (7.5/10): Vidal was called as another Paulinho when he was signed and he definitely has offered a lot more than Paulinho, to say the least. He has stepped up brilliantly in Raktic and Arthur's absence due to injury. His warrior-like mentality has impressed many. He's now a key player in the squad.
- Sergio Busquets (8/10): The motherboard of the Barcelona team has been brilliant as usual and remains probably the most important player of the team. His consistency is scary.
- Munir El Haddadi (6/10): He's been a decent back-up for Suarez. He still needs to improve, though.
- Malcom Oliviera (7/10): In a controversial transfer, Malcom fulfilled his dream by signing for FC Barcelona. He has not been given a lot of playing time but looks lively on both wings whenever given chances. With busy schedule coming up, Malcolm's importance at the club is only going to increase.
- Phillipe Coutinho (7/10): He is not at his best and has also been injured, but he still has been influential for Barcelona. He is a world class player and will definitely return to his usual best. Barcelona need the classy Coutinho for the remaining season.
- Ousmane Dembele (7.5/10): Criticized for his inconsistent performances and disciplinary issues in the beginning of the season, he has turned the tables and showed everybody why Barcelona shelled a lot of money for him. He currently has 9 goals and 5 assists and is the best attacker after Messi. His pace and trickery will be a great asset for his team for the rest of the season.
- Luis Suarez (8/10): He may have dwindled a bit, he may not be as beasty as he may have been but he certainly is still crucial for Barcelona. He hasn't been exceptional but still has 11 goals and 6 assists and that's not had at all. Moreover, Suarez is a lot more than just goals and his off the ball movement is still unmatched by any striker in the world.
- Lionel Messi (9.5/10): 21 goals and 11 assists. Top scorer and assist provider in La Liga. Top scorer in Champions League in spite of starting just 3 games. Messi has been at his menacing best, to say the least. With the Catalans aiming to win all possible trophies, Messi will be absolutely instrumental for them in the second half of the season.
Valverde hasn't done anything wrong and has managed the squad pretty well. He has permanently included Alena in the first team and Miranda is getting more chances. He, however, needs to give more playing time to deserving lads like Malcom and Munir. He needs to give more chances go B players in Copa Del Rey. But still, there isn't a lot to complain about currently.
Rating (till now): 8/10
Barcelona certainly have a great squad capable of winning the treble. The addition of Murillo was also a very smart one. In short, Valverde and FC Barcelona don't have any excuses to miss out on any trophy this season.Published 27 Dec 2018, 18:21 IST