The 2017-18 season for Barcelona fans was certainly a confusing one. Barcelona dealt with a double whammy at the beginning of the season when the football world got rocked by the transfer of Neymar from Barca to Paris Saint Germain and a 3-1 defeat against archrivals Real Madrid in the Supercopa de España. Although Dembele was brought in as a marquee signing and Paulinho was added too, it did not seem enough to compensate the void left by the Brazilian. The Barcelona faithful were prepared to see an underwhelming season ahead; but as the days passed it started becoming clear that their season was way too far from underwhelming.
With the change of coach and his 4-4-2 tactic bearing fruit, Barcelona’s domestic performance was surreal given what they had been through in the recent past as they went on to a 36 match unbeaten run in La Liga. Besides, their Champions League run also wasn’t so bad either until they met with a surprisingly horrific defeat against Roma where the Italian team pulled off a ‘La Remontada.’ Although Valverde had been spot on with his tactics otherwise, he did acknowledge his blunder in that game afterward in his mea culpa. With the UCL Trophy dream over and La Liga almost wrapped up Barca did not have much to play for except for the Copa Del Rey, so the gaffer prudently decided to give more minutes to youngsters and the underused players. Among them, almost all the new signings disappointed except for one or two. They went on to win La Liga and bossed the game against Sevilla in the Copa Del Rey finals to complete the domestic double.
Notwithstanding the amazing performance, Barcelona seemed like two different teams when they played with Messi and without him. It was glaringly ostensible in the La Liga match against Sevilla in the climax part of the season where Barcelona was trailing 2-0 and had to wait for Messi to join after the halftime, and salvage a draw. After Iniesta’s departure, Barcelona might lack the creativity in the midfield, but Coutinho and Arthur can be expected to fill for the veteran playmaker. In a nutshell, though Barcelona were unassailable domestically, they will still need to prove their mettle in the Champions League.