New beginnings may be difficult, because there almost always will be slip ups along the way. What is important is to keep the progress ongoing. That sounds so cliché, especially for the opening paragraph of a football article. Forgive me, I’m working on my Renaissance too, just like Barça is.
Atleti have steadily dropped points. It was 11 when the year started. Atleti dropping points is pleasing, but capitalizing on it is another task in and of itself. And the team, under Ronald Koeman in these final months of the season, is showing great spirit. The comebacks and late wins are great evidence of a team that is finding extra to push themselves up beyond adversity, even when they might have played their part in being in that situation in the first place. It still is a great sign of resilience. And apart from the resilience, there have been really good performances from the team. The 1-6 whitewashing of Real Sociedad at the Reale Arena is a magnificent testament to how well this team is playing.
There is a renewed hunger in the team, the mentality has changed completely. In the aftermath of some disappointing defeats, the Sevilla first leg, PSG at the Camp Nou, and the draw with Càdiz, it seemed as though the whole season would crumble from there on out. But they came back fighting. The whole team’s got this spark and playing better than they have in recent times. The second legs of the aforementioned fixtures saw a team that was here to fight. The game in Paris was game of fine margins. There’s been massive improvement. Both games against Sevilla, both in the La Liga and in the Copa Del Rey. The new tactical system fits the team to a tee. The team has been much more precise and clinical with their attacks now. More composure and accuracy in front of goal, in the demolition of Real Sociedad, 10 shots on target yielded 6 goals. That’s far better than anything they’ve produced since the season began. The resurgence of Sergio Busquets has been magnificent to witness. The players’ work rate has improved greatly, they retain the ball better, they press better. And use the ball better too.
Add to this new found vigor the fact that there is a new President who has taken office, and there is real cause for optimism. Even more reason to be optimistic? The new President is revivified Joan Laporta. And there’s talk that he plans to use his extensive reach to get Barça the best players to suit the team’s needs without ignoring La Masia, what exciting times we have ahead. Players like Ilaix, Araujo and Mingueza have gotten big jumps from the B team into the first team, and the team is all the better for it. Next season, we might see Alejandro Balde, Jandro Orellana and Àlex Collado get extended opportunities with the first team. And that is very exciting to think about. Now is the right time to reawaken. No better time.
Going into the International break revivified is maybe the best fans could hope for. 10 games left in the League, along with the Copa Del Rey final leaves the team with two trophies to fight for. What a remarkable upturn in fortune.