Feb 15, 2014, 6:57 PM EDT
Three days out from Barcelona’s trip to Manchester City, Spain’s leaders are starting to look like their former selves. After a winter that saw the Spanish champions temporarily lose their place at the top of the Spanish table, Gerardo Martino’s team seemed more vulnerable than usual. Instead, the Blaugrana were just regrouping.
With today’s 6-0 win over visiting Rayo Vallecano, Barcelona have outscored their last two league opponents 10-1. They’ve reclaimed their lead in La Liga, and with Neymar coming off the bench in the second half, the defending champs have all their stars back. When they visit the Etihad on Tuesday in UEFA Champions League, Barça will finally be at full strength.
As Saturday showed, they’ll also be in form. Within two minutes of kickoff at the Camp Nou, Alexis Sánchez had Barça on the board, continuing what’s been his best season in Spain. Lionel Messi doubled his team’s lead by half time, with second half goals from Sánchez, Pedro, Messi and Neymar leading to the lopsided result. The trio of Messi, Pedro, and Sánchez have now combined for 41 league goals this season.
If you’ve been following our weekly Spain wrap ups, you know this is the type of performance Barcelona’s been missing at times over the league seven weeks. They’ve continued to dominate possession and limit their opponent’s chances, but they’re often unable to translate that dominance onto the scoreboard, leaving opponents within striking distance. It bit them two weeks ago against Valencia. It also cost them in January at Levante and resurfaced during the team’s 2-0 win at home against Real Sociedad in Copa del Rey.
Maybe those are just isolated examples. Even with those down performances, Barcelona’s averaging over three goals per game since December (40 goals, 13 games). Saturday’s six spot, however, took their production to another level. It was the first time since Dec. 11 they’ve scored as many goals and their first victory by six-or-more goals since beating Levante 7-0 in August.
If Barcelona has rekindled that early season form — a level that saw them open the Spanish season with eight straight wins — they’re as ready as they’ll ever be for Manchester City. Though drawing Manuel Pellegrini’s side gives them a semifinal-level challenge in the Round of 16, Martino’s team may be up to it.
Apr 19, 2014, 7:39 AM EDT
Find out how to watch every single PL game live online of via the app:
Apr 19, 2014, 7:33 AM EDT
Rumors persist that Leo Messi is unhappy at Barcelona. Will Manchester City swoop in, stealing away one of the world’s best players?
Apr 19, 2014, 7:03 AM EDT
A victory at White Hart Lane could secure safety for the Whites, but with Tottenham still hoping for Champions League, is there any chance?
Apr 18, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT
A trio of players have been charged in a match-fixing ring involving 17 first-division matches in the Austrian Bundesliga since 2004.
Apr 18, 2014, 10:22 PM EDT
Everton takes on Manchester United this weekend as the American shot-stopper hopes to save their Champions League dreams.
Apr 18, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
The German manager says when he was brought in the players were afraid of his reputation, but that fear has long since dissipated.
Apr 18, 2014, 7:38 PM EDT
Stoke City are on a tear, but they have yet to truly figure things out away from the Britannia. Can Cardiff City capitalize on the Potters’ shaky away form for a second straight surprising result?
Apr 18, 2014, 6:53 PM EDT
Whether this new corruption allegation implicates Ricardo Teixeira with regards to the Qatar World Cup bid or his ties to Barcelona, it’s more bad news for the former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation.
Apr 18, 2014, 6:09 PM EDT
With the World Cup still over two years away, Tab Ramos is beginning preparation with North American-based players.
Apr 18, 2014, 5:24 PM EDT
Jose Mourinho has guided Chelsea to an astonishing nine straight clean sheets at Stamford Bridge. Can the bottom-dwelling Black Cats pull off an unforseeable upset?
Apr 18, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
Following in the footsteps of Samir Nasri’s comments last month, Manchester City’s Ivorian believes being from Africa is preventing him from reaching the game’s individual pinnacles.
Apr 18, 2014, 4:23 PM EDT
With Chicago the draw specialists early on, can they beat New England on Saturday? Watch live on NBCSN, 4 p.m. ET:
Apr 18, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT
With the game played in Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium, the local law enforcement decided to have some fun…at Marc Bartra’s expense.
Apr 18, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Where and how to watch all the PL games during Week 35:
Apr 18, 2014, 1:57 PM EDT
Three Chelsea legends to sign on the dotted line?
Apr 18, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT
Can van Basten get the best out of Johannsson?
Apr 18, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT
U.S. national team head coach speaks out on Altidore, USMNT squad, American Outlaws and more:
Apr 18, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
Spurs and Fulham set for derby scrap, with both team desperate for three points:
Apr 18, 2014, 10:27 AM EDT
Rooney and Fellaini fit to face their old team, as United aim to scupper Everton’s top four:
Apr 18, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT
Hammers’ youngster loses battle against cancer:
- WATCH: Premier League live on NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 35 0
- Americans Abroad Preview: Howard looks for bounceback vs Manchester United 0
- Report: 10-year-old daughter of former FIFA official received over $3 million 1
- Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs Sunderland 0
- Homegrown star Shipp hoping to guide Chicago to first win of 2014 1
- WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 35 0