La Liga expectations vs Reality

All things considered, that they managed to win the only Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup last season represents a failure for a club of Barcelona’s ambitions and stature. Worse, their eternal rivals in white became the first ever team in the Champions League era to defend their UEFA Champions League crown.Part of the reason why the Barcelona squad seems to have reached the end of their tether is due to the age profile. Old midfield maestro Andres Iniesta, battler Javier Mascherano, defenders Jeremy Mathieu and Thomas Vermaelen are all on the wrong side of 30. The dreaded third decade has also made its appearance in the case of Messi and Suarez as well. In other words, the squad is in need of a significant overhaul.For the first time in a very long time, Barcelona do not start the season as the favourites to win La Liga.

Barca have won Spain’s top flight in six of the past nine years, but they didn’t win it last year, and no one really expects them to win it in 2017-18. A turbulent preseason ended with a 5-1 aggregate defeat to Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup, and there’s a feeling that — not for the first time, admittedly — a golden generation of players is finally declining.The injury to Suarez is something which can happen,” Valverde said in his pregame news conference on Saturday. “Losing Neymar was sudden, it was a surprise and it’s changed our plan a little. But now we all have to pull in the same direction and not look back.