With Barcelona breaking record upon record, Luke Taylor questions how much of an effect fatigue will have on their exploits.
Football is a very unpredictable sport, which is one of the main reasons why so many people savour it and relish the moments it gives us. One thing which hasn’t been too difficult to envisage as of late, however, is Barcelona winning.
Their latest victory, 4-0 at Eibar, saw them go 36 games without defeat, a Spanish record, but with games coming thick and fast in their pursuit of a historic double-treble, just how long can this run of form last?
Barca still have a lot of obstacles to overcome if they want to etch themselves even deeper into the history books they seem to be rewriting. In order to break the aforementioned record continentally, they must overtake Nottingham Forest, who reached 40 games unbeaten, and Juventus, who reached 43 games.
On top of that, one would presume depriving Jose Mourinho of the one thing he likes to recall to silence those who call his time in Spain a failure is quite an appealing proposition for some of Barca’s players. To do that, they would need to exceed 100 points over the course of the League season and score at least another 43 goals to break the 121 goal record set by the Portuguese’s team in La Liga. That record seems a little bit more unmanageable, but who knows with the #MSN’ around?
If somebody who watches no football at all was to see these statistics, they would be safe in thinking that La Blaugrana were playing at their best in every game they played in. But the fact that they aren’t shows just how much the Catalans can achieve with this team. They seem to coast through periods of games without much exertion and then with the flick a switch kill teams off with moments of brilliance from their superstars. Having the ability to do that will put them in a great position come the end of the season, but against stronger opposition they need to be at their best from start to finish.
Since Barca’s 4-0 demolition of Real Madrid on November 21, they have played a midweek game for 13 consecutive weeks, with this week being the only one without two games since their Clasico win. This shows the sheer amount of games that they’ve had to play, augmented by their trip to Japan for the Club World Cup.
The additions of Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal have permitted some rotation and given players some much needed respite, but there is still bound to be fatigue in the legs of these players. Upon being suspended for a game after reaching five yellow cards, Javier Mascherano was quick to mention “it’ll be good to get some rest,” which perhaps expresses what is being brought to the forefront of some players’ minds. The use of a pneumatic compressor unit, or put more simply, an anti-fatigue and muscle-recovery machine, is helping squad members through these arduous periods, according to Sport, but tougher tests await and will show if their efforts have took their toll.
As the home stretch of the season nears, every game’s importance is heightened considerably, and the pressure on Barca is going to increase. This team have given us so many moments of magic and proven themselves to be among the best in history, but the next couple of months are going to be their most demanding yet as they close in on more records.