Barcelona looking good despite damaging defeats

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For a team that sit atop La Liga and hadn't conceded a league goal before their comprehensive loss to Real Madrid, it's hard to be overly critical of Barcelona.

However, despite such a glorious run, they have been pegged back and rather than running away with it at this stage, find themselves right in the mix and in danger of being overtaken by any number of teams if Luis Enrique can't find a formula to beat the bigger sides.

Twice this season, against Paris Saint-Germain and particularly Madrid, Enrique's Barca have been found wanting.

Wrong team selection?

It has been particularly noticeable in those two games that Enrique hasn't been able to stem the tide, and indeed you would argue his substitutions in both were either unnecessary or just didn't work. His team selections too have left much to be desired.

Why continue to allow a ridiculously under-par Gerard Pique to be the mainstay of the defence when there are others available that are patently in better form? Why buy Douglas when Martin Montoya has sat patiently waiting on the sidelines the whole season long?

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There are lots of questions that do indeed need answering, but at least Lucho has results in his favour at this point. And when they pass like they did against Ajax, supporters can have no complaints:

Team in transition

For a team in transition, both in terms of personnel and formation, not conceding a goal until the last weekend of October is top form indeed. Furthermore, the way in which Enrique has brought the style and panache back into Barca's play is to be applauded.

The relentless pressing game that was a fixture of the Guardiola years has returned and a team that looked tired and disinterested last year, now look hungry and up for the fight in many respects.

The acid test of the managers reign will come towards the end of November as Sevilla visit Camp Nou and then Barcelona head to Valencia and a date at Mestalla the following week.

Ex-Barca players lie in wait

The Catalans attacking and defensive credentials will be tested in both, and with Gerard Deulofeu and Denis Suarez leading the line for the Andalusians, Barca could have two of their own toppling their ambitions if they're not on their game.

In any event, selection issues aside, there is much to be positive about as the Blaugrana approach the difficult middle third of the season. Neymar's form is particularly impressive, having already scored more than he did in the whole of last season. Lionel Messi has been the main beneficiary and it's not often the diminutive Argentine is outscored by anyone.

More to come

Luis Suarez showed in his cameo at Real that there is plenty more to come, and until El Clasico, Ivan Rakitic had out-passed everyone in the league. No cause for concern just now...

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Luis Enrique
La Liga
Lionel Messi
Luis Suarez

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