Well, that’s that then. Barcelona have eliminated Arsenal in the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League round of 16, taken it to Paris Saint-Germain in the quarters and will finally receive their first stern test in the semi-finals.
Try as Arsenal might in their all-too familiar opening day loss to Liverpool, the Gunners were simply unable to overcome Barcelona, the Catalan giants throttling Sevilla 5-0 on aggregate in the Supercopa Espana.
Confused? You shouldn’t be. What I mean to say is that Barcelona are good. By good, I mean they’re already peak-Arsenal-in-April good. Their preseason form already eclipses the best that 95% of European clubs could ever hope to offer over the course of the 2016-17 season.
While it’s heartening to see the likes of Francis Coquelin, Theo Walcott and Calum Chambers give it their all, the sustained brilliance Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets means that Arsenal have been eliminated by a superior Barca squad in the round of 16 of the 2016-17 Champions League.
Paris Saint-Germain are enjoying a fine start to life under new coach Unai Emery, and Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria and Marco Verratti are all formidable players but their victories over Lyon and Bastia don’t quite compare to a comprehensive victory over the Europa League champions, Sevilla.
Accordingly, Barcelona have smashed PSG over the course of the two-legged quarter-final. Trust me, it wasn’t even close.
New clubs wax lyrical about new signings and previously injured players who’ll be like new signings, but new Barcelona players seemingly acclimate to the side like finely tuned cogs in a machine, no hyperbole and far-reaching predictions necessary.
Jack Wilshere’s fit, Arsenal? That’s exciting. Barcelona bought Denis Suarez back for only €3.25 million — he’s 22 and ready to become a regular for Spain.
You’ve signed Grzegorz Krychowiak, PSG? Nice! Barcelona have taken Lucas Digne from you.
Watching Barcelona play is like watching Superman opening up a can of whoop ass on some poor, unsuspecting man on the street. The terrifying thing about it is, like Superman, no one is completely sure of just how powerful Barcelona really is. They always seem to be joyfully holding back like a cat toying with a mouse for their own sustained enjoyment.
The knowing looks and smiles they share with each other during stoppages of play seem to convey the message of “should we do that one thing that we’ve been practicing that the world has never seen before? Or just save it for later?”
Every year we believe we’ve seen the upper limit on Barcelona skill, but who knows what this year has in store for us. The understanding between Messi and Luis Suarez looks incomprehensibly telepathic and Neymar only continues to get better, leaving the Barcelona hierarchy with the task of improving the defense measure by measure.
Scarily enough, it looks as though they’ve already accomplished that.
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