With Lionel Messi not expected to return to action for FC Barcelona much before the end of the year, and having struggled with some niggling injuries at the latter part of last season, the chances of the mercurial number 10 winning the FIFA Ballon D’Or for a fifth straight year are looking pretty slim.
Not only did Barcelona win the battle of the summer signings, with Neymar scoring and having much greater influence on the first El Clasico game of the season, but Tata Martino got the better of his opposite number at Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti. It was the first experience of this most highly charged of derbies for both bosses, and Tata will certainly have enjoyed it more.
Because FC Barcelona have started this season at breakneck speed, putting the disappointment of the latter end of last season behind them, it is difficult to get any sort of decent odds on them to win games, even when it comes to playing the big spending giants of Spanish football Real Madrid.
One of the main reasons that FC Barcelona pushed through the transfer of Neymar from Santos this summer was what happened with Lionel Messi last season. The Argentine striker has a fantastic injury record, especially when you consider how many games he plays and how often he gets fouled. But it was bound to happen, and his injury problems towards the end of last season coincided with Barcelona’s worst run of games in a long time.
Planning the perfect trip to Spain’s El Clásico 2013 by Adam
The most intense rivalry in Spanish football continues this month with Real Madrid travelling to do battle with Barcelona at the Nou Camp on 26 October and hoping to draw first blood in the race for the la Liga title. With temperatures averaging in the high 20s in October, the first El Clásico of the season falls at an ideal time for those looking to get away for a city break in the Catalan capital.
There is no love lost between FC Barcelona and Jose Mourinho, that is certain. Even before he took charge of Barcelona’s great La Liga rivals Real Madrid, the Portuguese manager who once proclaimed himself to be the `special one` seemed to have a real problem with the Catalan club, perhaps because he was overlooked once for a managerial position.
The Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova was very respectful the other day and even had the grace to wish Jose Mourinho good luck following the announcement that the Portuguese manager would be leaving Real Madrid at the end of the season. Vilanova was probably just glad to see the back of him, but the club’s vice-president Carles Vilarrubi had no problem with telling the media what he thought of Mourinho.
It is crystal clear that Barcelona have not signed a player who suffers from any sort of lack of confidence. 21-year old Neymar has been a Barca player for just one day, but he is already setting his goals for next season and the main one is to do better than the main man from our main rivals Real Madrid.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, a crack,” said Neymar. “I have already been wanting to play against him, and beat him.
“I have spent days and months with a crazy head, but now it’s over. I’m much more relaxed and happy.