Okay , I shall do the unthinkable.... I will state what may amount to heresy in some quarters : Barcelona are in decline !! I am just as enthusiastic an admirer as anyone of this all conquering team , and it's Argentinian maestro LIONEL MESSI . I am not here to recite all what they have won and achieved in the last 4 years , nor all the personal achievements and accolades Messi has deservedly won . This current Barcelona team will undoubtedly be ranked alongside the great teams foot-ball history has recorded .
Anyhow , when i take off the rose-tinted spectacles , i do honestly reckon they are in decline . Messi's goals in basket-full has well masked some of their deficiencies as it has kept them winning matches , and maybe we start to repeat the superlatives, the cliches , and it grows into a chorus that has become automotive , perhaps laced with bias . Barcelona's 11 straight La liga wins to date is their best winning sequence this season . It's no surprise they trail Real Madrid in The La Liga standings , even though winning 11 on the bounce has helped cut the lead to 4 points . Last season , by the 3rd week of January , Barcelona had won 16 on the bounce - a record achievement . Pedro scored no less than 22 goals ( in total ) last season ; this season , I doubt if he has 8 goals to his name - being in- and- out of the side due to injury , and form ; not to add David Villa's injury robbing them of fire-power , and goals . Messi has simply taken on more of the goal scoring burden the afore-mentioned have not been able to help out with this term . Very few observe Iniesta is treading water - for me no longer possessing twinkle toes , nor the magic he had to get past players like he did 2 years ago ; So too with Busquets : Not at the level he was a couple of years back ; the only ones you still give the usual kudos is probably Xavi , Dani Alves , and Puyol . Alexis Sanchez has not quite settled- in , Fabregas has been mercurial . Decay usually starts from with-in , and it's typically unnoticed from the outside . When a great team cannot boast the performance of individuals is continuing to rise , to me that indicates a decline . There is only one player apart from Messi whose stock is on the rise , that would be mascherano . Winning , and having lots of plaudits masks these sort of issues , and often people are merely extrapolating in a very subjective , and misleading way.
Matters shall come to a head starting with failure to beat Madrid tonight . Frankly , i fancy Madrid to win tonight ( even if i cannot stand mourinho ) and go on to be La Liga champions . Against Chelsea on tuesday next week : i do estimate Chelsea to go on and win the tie after all. I did say the first game was not going to be easy for Barca , and so it turned out to be. I am thus emboldened to suggest chelsea will make it through . I hope i am wrong , because i love Barcelona , their identity , and values ; but i can emphatically say the team has peaked , and running out of steam . Who is on the bench to bring on ? Cuenca , or Thiago ? the depth does not exist , the power in the spine of the team is relatively weaker , and i do not see them having what it takes to win La Liga , nor the champions League this season. Sometimes , the more you look, the less you do see . This much romanticized , and legendary team is set for diminishing returns. I'll be delighted to eat my words.