El Centrocampista

CLEAN SWEEP? – What does Guardiola really expect from Barça this season?

by Lee Roden

It’s slow news time in Barcelona. The club have wrapped up the Sanchez and Bojan deals, and Oriol and Jeffren’s transfers are regarded as all but complete.

Pre-season is going as pre-season’s tend to, fairly well but somewhat useless due to the absence of key players. The Fabregas saga is grinding on with little new information from either side, a situation likely to continue until the end of the transfer window.

So, with little going on in the present, I felt it was time to look to the future.

Every year F.C Barcelona aim to win everything available to them, but realistically we all know that certain titles are prioritised over others.

The Copa del Rey loss to Madrid last year, for example, was no great dent in Barça’s pride after picking up the league and Champions League thereafter.

Will the amazing haul of six trophies ever be matched?

That is not to say that the Copa is unimportant, but rather that it is less important than the other two competitions.

As such, coming off the back of a second Champions League title under Guardiola, it may be worth speculating as to what the outcome of gaining a third would be.

In my opinion, if FC Barcelona do win the Champions League again this season (and right now, who would bet against them?) it would likely spell the end of Guariola’s time as Barça coach.

If Pep becomes the first coach to successfully defend the Champions League, he will have accomplished every important major honour possible as a coach at Barcelona (assuming such trivialities as defending the Copa del Rey are unimportant to Guardiola, which I would presume to be true).

Ultimately in doing this, there would be little left for Guardiola to prove.

He has already shown that he does not believe in long-term contracts for coaches, and is aware that his lifespan at Barcelona will be short.

The impact of stress on Pep has been well documented elsewhere, and the opportunity to walk away from Barça as the greatest coach the club has ever seen would provide an ideal circumstance for him to leave on a high note.

In doing what no one else in European football has done before, defending the Champions League, Pep really would become the ultimate tactician in Barça’s history.

And what of the league?  Some people, contrary to my opinion, would argue this to be the most important title in Barça’s calendar (more so than the Champions League).

It is stating the obvious to say that Barcelona aim to win this every season, and this year will be no different.

Indeed, it could perhaps be said that Barcelona will not rest until they equal –and surpass- Real Madrid’s incredible league record (Madrid have 31 league titles compared to Barça’s 21).

It is this extra drive fuelled by the historical rivalry between the two clubs that has aided Barcelona in consistently challenging Madrid for the title over the last thirty years, and long may it continue.

Of course, to assume that Barcelona will win anything this season is foolish.

Football often trumps logic, though applying reasonable thinking would suggest that Barça indeed shall contend for at least one of the three major titles on offer.

Additions like Sanchez, the continuing rise of Thiago and the bonus of a fully fit Carles Puyol would make the Barça squad even stronger than last season.

Not to mention the potential signing of Fabregas (I won’t dwell on this before you fall asleep).

As such, Barça are still, clearly, the team to beat, both in Spain and in Europe.

Alternatively, am I being biased or maybe just plain wrong? Tell us what you think using the comments section below;

Will Barça become the first team to retain the Champions League and furthermore, if they do will Guardiola leave?

Or will they win nothing thanks to the money and stars of Madrid?

Further still, is there a dark horse waiting to claim the league from under the noses of both teams (I’m looking at you, Malaga!)?

In any case, the season will undoubtedly, to read from the book of clichés, be full of surprises.

One thing is certain; the Clasicos will have to be more entertaining after the controversy of last season’s (latter) affairs.

If that is the case, we’re in for a good year already. Bring on the Supercopa!

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