Valverde and Record-Breaking Barcelona Have Silenced their Critics4 min read
What a season this is turning into for FC Barcelona.
Written off before a ball was even kicked in earnest, they’re now the joint holders of La Liga’s all-time record for consecutive unbeaten games.
Their 3-1 win over Leganes meant that Ernesto Valverde’s side had reached a 38th league game in succession without defeat, equalling the incredible efforts of the 1979/80 Real Sociedad team.
Not bad for a squad that was supposedly in transition, and, for many commentators, the worst Barca of the last 10 years.
It’s true that Lionel Messi has carried the team on his shoulders at times, but to pick out any one facet of their success is to do Valverde a huge disservice.
Valverde has been figure of authority
His appointment was underwhelming for the vast majority of Barcelona supporters, many of whom wanted the more charismatic and maverick Jorge Sampaoli to be handed the reins.
In hindsight, procuring the services of the former Athletic Club coach is the best thing that Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board could’ve done.
The polar opposite to his predecessor, Luis Enrique, Valverde exudes calm authority. Popular with players and staff alike, his courtesy and dedication have been reciprocated by all.
That extends to a media pack who had become tired of Lucho’s constant brusqueness and irritation at press conferences.
Former Athletic coach has solved all problems
After heavy losses in both legs of the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid, Valverde’s task was already clear.
It’s fair to speculate that at that particular time nobody would’ve foreseen both Real’s subsequent collapse and Barca’s unstoppable rise.
When questions have been posed, the coach has answered them. Every single time. That takes nous, hard work, determination, belief and courage.
There have been occasions when Valverde has had to go ‘all in’ and risk everything. Some would have you believe that he was too set in his ways to take such chances, but take them he has – and how.
Can Barca be first Spanish ‘invincibles’?
Although it’s not the most important item on their agenda, Barcelona’s players and staff will also be aware that they are just seven games away from becoming the first Spanish side in history to go an entire season unbeaten.
In amongst those matches are visits from Valencia and Real Madrid, and a trip to Celta Vigo, so it won’t be easy.
And if Barca are still in the Champions League but strolling in La Liga, then expect wholesale changes which could determine results.
Nevertheless, it’s points that win prizes and that is Valverde’s only focus.
Just 12 more are required to take the title. Win the Copa del Rey too, and then Barca can go for the Champions League.
The first team to do the ‘treble treble’ could well be how the ‘worst Barca in a decade’ are remembered.
It’s a funny old game…