End of Season Review: Barcelona’s Report Card From the 2017/18 Campaign

In what was expected to be a tough campaign for Barcelona following their humiliating defeat at the hands of Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana back in August, not many could have predicted the success Ernesto Valverde would secure during his inaugural campaign. 

Domestically, Barça’s dominance was unparalleled, shattering several records along the way as well as being an overall joy to watch. 

So, following the conclusion of the 2017/18 Spanish campaign, here is a look back at La Blaugrana’s year. 

1. League Performance

One defeat in 38 games should offer a brief overview of how impressive Barcelona were in La Liga this season. 

Undoubtedly, the crazy 5-4 defeat to Levante during the penultimate weekend removed a touch of gloss from the campaign, but in no way did it take away the achievement of Valverde’s men. 

36 games unbeaten – 43 including last season – showcased how commanding the ‘weakened’ Barça were, and with a 3-0 victory inside the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu to effectively end Real Madrid’s title chances to boot, overall, it was a scintillating campaign in Catalonia. 

2. Domestic Cup Performance

Again, similarly to the league, just one defeat throughout Barcelona’s run to their fourth successive Copa del Rey success proved how clinical the double champions could be – although the loss to close rivals Espanyol will have hurt a little. 

But if there was 90 minutes which summed up how truly devastating Blaugrana had the capability of being, it would be the final; in which they dispatched Sevilla, a side who had reached the Champions League quarter-finals, 5-0 with an overpowering display. 

That night in Madrid; hearing ‘El Cant del Barça’ ring out in the Spanish capital, it will be remembered for some time.   

3. Continental Cup Performance

However, despite Barcelona’s overwhelming dominance domestically, they struggled to find such form in the Champions League – particularly in the latter rounds. 

The 3-0 defeat to AS Roma, which brought a shocking end to Barça’s European escapades for another year, was merely the result of warning signs that had come before. 

In no continental clash this year did Blaugrana find their rhythm, as could be seen against the likes of Chelsea and Juventus – despite dumping the Blues out of the tournament. 

Maybe Valverde’s naivety played a role in their disappointing run, or perhaps the blame lies with the players for their showing in the Stadio Olimpico – either way, there is much to address if the Catalonians are to improve in the competition next year. 

4. Best Player

No real surprise, Lionel Messi. Without the Argentine, Barcelona looked a team lost at sea at times, although Philippe Coutinho certainly went some way in reducing the deficit as the term wore on. 

Claiming the Pichichi and the European Golden Shoe only tells half the story of the 30-year-old’s campaign, with the maestro finishing up with La Liga’s joint most-assists (only the second time a player has been top of both goals and assists charts), most chances created, most take-ons completed, most through ball chances created, most goals from outside of the box and most free-kick goals. 

It really was another incredible campaign for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. 

5. Worst Player

Andre Gomes indeed had a year to forget this year, making only six starts in Spain’s top flight as his confidence plummeted throughout the term. 

The Portugal international’s lack of self-belief came as no surprise when looking over his stats, however, with only three chances created in 16 league outings – none of which led to an assist – and failing to provide or find the back of the net himself in any of his 29 showings. 

It would not be surprising to see the 24-year-old lead the exits from Camp Nou this summer, with the player offering very little in any aspect. 

6. The Manager

Despite unrest within the Barcelona faithful and his side’s showing in the Champions League this season, Valverde must be heavily praised for the job he has done in Catalonia this year. 

After the aforementioned Supercopa de Espana nightmare early on, many predicted a somewhat destitute campaign, yet an almost unbeaten term and two additional pieces of silverware to add to the already stacked trophy cabinet cannot be seen as anything but an overachievement. 

7. Overall Grade

For some reason, despite Barcelona’s sensational domestic campaign, their Champions League failings continue to haunt. 

Whether the Camp Nou’s obsession in some way derives from Real Madrid’s recent success in the competition remains to be seen, but that night in Rome has taken away some of the shine on what should be looked back on as a glorious season. 

But if the performances from Ousmane Dembele and Coutinho during the latter stages are anything to go by, as well as the rumoured move for Antoine Griezmann, Blaugrana could be an almost unstoppable force once again next year, even without Andres Iniesta. 

Overall Grade: A-

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