Following the success in the domestic league competition, the Catalan giants switch their focus to Copa del Rey and the prestigious Champions League.
• Barcelona aim to add more trophies to their cabinet
• Luis Enrique could emulate the success of predecessor Guardiola
• Juventus boasts a powerful squad
Barcelona have collected another Spanish league crown after managing to overcome defending champions Atletico Madrid 1-0 at the Nou Camp. Although the celebrations are in full swing at the moment, the season has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Luis Enrique took over the helm of the club last summer, and although many fans were delighted about the former Barca player taking up the managerial position, there were lingering doubts whether the new team would work.
reports that any new players were brought in that included some questionable signings. The manager was tasked with coming up with a system that would please all the superstars’ egos while also ensuring that the transition to his methods was as smooth as possible. From the initial looks of it wasn’t certain that they would be able to win a major trophy this season, however they managed to overcome the hurdles and are now looking to win two more.
New recruits proved to be helpful
The previous season saw them clinch only the Supercopa de Espana, which is a miniscule trophy for a giant that won the Champions League 4 times. The two biggest teams from the Spanish capital sealed all the major silverware, as Atletico Madrid won the league while fierce rivals Real Madrid won both the Cup and the Champions League, for a record 10th time. This is what propelled Barcelona to spend big over the summer, as they needed to make some changes and add a further layer of quality to their squad. Catalan punters that gamble online expressed great joy for the new players.
They signed a total of 7 new players over the summer of 2014. Some of the recruits were rather strange as they didn’t seem to be the most financially wise moves. The club bought two new goalkeepers (Ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo), while the defensive line was also bolstered, as club legend and captain Carles Puyol decided to retire in 2014 after serving the club for 15 years. Mobile betting sites report that Jeremy Mathieu was bought for EUR 20 million, while Douglas Costa arrived later in the summer for a figure of around EUR 4 million plus add-ons.
Vermaelen was signed from Arsenal for EUR 10 million, however he hasn’t played a single game for his new club, having suffered injuries beforehand. Croatian attacking midfielder Ivan Rakitic was purchased from Sevilla for a reported EUR 20 million, and he has proven to be quite an addition to the team with his great vision and touch on the ball.
And finally, the biggest transfer that cost Barcelona between EUR 80-90 million was attributed all to Luis Suarez. He was suspended for 4 months, but since then he has bagged a cool 24 goals across all competitions.
Battle for the ultimate prize
The Catalan giants have sealed their La Liga title last weekend, so now they can focus on the other trophies at hand. Luis Enrique’s men can repeat the success that former manager Pep Guardiola achieved in his first season in charge (2008-09), when he won the treble – league, title, Champions League. Later on in the year he added three more crowns, which was effectively dubbed the “sextuple season.” Considering the superstars present within the squad and more importantly the form that they are enjoying, football critics might say that there’s a real chance of that happening again.
In the Copa del Rey final they will face Athletic Bilbao at their home stadium, Camp Nou. This will serve greatly to their advantage as they will know the territory and won’t have to get acclimatized. That is why online sportsbooks in Spain favor them for them for the win, with odds being 1.22 (2/9), per Bet365. The Champions League final on the other hand will be a little more challenging, to say the least. Although Barcelona boast arguably the best forward line in the word, Juventus can still inflict damage to opponents when they least expect it.
Although many online sportsbooks have given Barcelona favorite status 1.61 (8/13) for the match, the Turin side still poses a threat. Their odds to win the game are limited 5.25 (17/4), but in reality they boast an impressive squad that has the ability to score a few goals. A draw for the game can also be a possibility with odds being 4.00 (3/1). Whichever way the game goes, we are sure to see a great encounter between the two sides.