The Catalans rounded off a memorable
year with a 4-0 win over Betis and a new goals record as they end 2015 on top of La Liga and seem set for more success in the months ahead.
This has been Barcelona’s year. The
Catalan club claimed five out of a possible
six trophies in 2015 and rounded it off in
sumptuous style with a 4-0 win over Betis
on Wednesday night that saw them set a
new goals record in the process. Is there
any stopping them in 2016?
Time will tell, of course. After all, Real
Madrid finished 2014 with four trophies,
a hatful of goals and a club record 22
victories in a row last December, only to
fade after Christmas and miss out on all
the major prizes at the end of last season.
So Barca will be wary of counting their
chickens just yet.
For the Blaugrana, though, this has been
an extraordinary year. To think that is
started in January with defeat at Real Sociedad and an unhappy Lionel Messi left on the bench seems almost unthinkable now. Barca clicked later that same month and never looked back, winning the treble as they swept aside everyone in their path to claim La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.
The Catalans added the Club World Cup to
their 2015 collection by beating River
Plate just before Christmas and showed
off their trophies before the match
against Betis on Wednesday.
With the Camp Nou crowd in celebratory
mood, Barca took a while to get going and
were fortunate to go ahead after winning
a penalty for a supposed foul by Antonio
Adan on Messi. The former Real Madrid
goalkeeper clearly punched the ball,
however, and the spot-kick should not
have been awarded.
Neymar took it but slipped and touched
the ball with both feet – which is illegal –
as he blasted against the bar and there
was also a foul by Ivan Rakitic on Heiko
Westermann as the defender put the ball
into his own net. So Betis were unlucky
to say the least.
In any case, Messi made it 2-0 soon
afterwards and after something of a
scrappy first half from both teams, Luis
Suarez scored twice in a much better
performance by Barca in the second
period. It was one final exhibition in a
memorable year for the Catalan club.
Barca, of course, were banned from
registering new players in 2015 after a
Fifa sanction for irregularities in the
club’s recruitment of young players.
That suspension was expected to hit them
hard, but the Catalans coped and can now
field summer signings Aleix Vidal and
Arda Turan in January, which should
make them even stronger for the second
half of the season.
The Bluagrana also managed without
Messi for two months as the Argentine
attacker sat out with a knee injury, but
he returned to play a cameo role as Luis
Enrique’s side thrashed Madrid 4-0 at the
Bernabeu last month and a win by the
same scoreline on Wednesday sees them
back on top of La Liga with a game in
hand as well due to their participation in
the Club World Cup.
It was a fitting finale to a wonderful year.
And although repeating the success of 2015 will be extremely difficult, but there are no signs of a let-up right now and Barca will be the team to beat again in 2016.
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