BARCELONA – The calendar is capricious and he wanted Barcelona’s debut in the 2021 Super Cup, his match against Real Sociedad on Wednesday, to coincide with the day on which, a year earlier, Josep Maria Bartomeu began setting the club on fire with him dismissal of Ernesto Valverde. Today neither is Bartomeu nor Quique Setién, a long-term substitute on the bench who was burned in the eyes of the squad in just three months. And under the direction of Ronald Koeman, the Barça team is playing the first title of the season. Less? We will have to see it.
Soccer Spain attends this Super Cup hoping that on Sunday Barça and Real Madrid will meet again in Seville, the greats, the giants to reissue a Classic that relaunches the football mood in a country too hit by the coronavirus and overwhelmed, tired and to some extent fed up with having to watch his team on television.
Before that, the Barça team will have to fulfill their role as favorites against Real Sociedad, waiting for Real Madrid to do so on Wednesday in Malaga against Athletic Bilbao.
For now, Barça will jump onto the New Archangel lawn, accumulating a whole month undefeated and having added six victories and two draws since they defeated Levante (1-0) at the Camp Nou on December 13. It is true that he left four points that seem dramatic against Valencia and Eibar in the stadium, as much as the three lost miserably in Cádiz a week before … But a kind of optimism has begun to settle around the Barça team that, still with dissimulation, he gives account of a rebirth, of a change to which Koeman has given as much luster as Messi strength.
The worst Barça in attack in the last 18 years has been forgotten after the seven goals that Athletic and Granada shared; the most depressive Messi is a thing of the past after scoring four goals, three shots on goal and one assist in the three games played this year; Frenkie de Jong is no longer a ghost and Sergio Busquets’ 600 games do not invite us to show him a path to retirement but rather they relocate him again.
Everything has changed in a team with both past and future, represented by Pedri and Dest, De Jong, Araújo and Ansu Fati (today injured and so missed by the coach). Koeman has found his way, or so it seems, and the Spanish Super Cup becomes a first title as minor taking into account the boom years at the Camp Nou and strategic in view of the present of the club, which has not won a trophy since April 27, 2019, when he celebrated his last League.
Without Gerard Piqué and without Sergi Roberto, Philippe Coutinho or the already mentioned Ansu, Barça recovers Clement Lenglet (sanctioned in the last game) and is supposed to match him with Samuel Umtiti for not taking risks with a Ronald Araújo injured in the hamstrings. That would mean that the pair of French centrals would meet again in a line-up for the first time since February 9, 2020, when the Barça team beat Real Betis (2-3) at Villamarín … And Lenglet was expelled.
With, it is understood, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen untouchable in the goal, Sergiño Dest and Jordi Alba will remain on the sides and it is unlikely that Koeman will retouch much more an eleven that was gaining strength in his last performances and which is contemplated favorite over a Real Sociedad that started the course fired and that, however, has lost a lot of momentum in recent weeks.
The Basque team has barely won one of its last twelve official matches and, worse still, in the League the streak shows a single victory in nine games, in which it has added 7 of 27 points to move from the leadership it enjoyed on November 20 , ahead of Barça by nine points, now being fifth in the table, four points below the Catalans and eight points ahead of Atlético de Madrid … Having played four more games than the colchoneros.
The numbers support Barça. The sensations too … But around Koeman’s team caution is always installed. Just in case.