If you're a football fan but follow the English Premier League or Serie A or Ligue 1 or any of those other competitions, I would exhort you to, for one week, turn your eyes toward the Blaugrana. Barcelona are not only playing the best football in Spain, they are not only playing the best football in Europe, they are not only playing the best football in the world, but in fact are playing the best football in the world seen for a long, long time.
Barca's last two games have confirmed this fact. Heading into last Sunday, Barca were playing awesome, attacking football, but could be legitimately criticized for not having done it against any of the big teams. Facing in succession Sevilla away, Valencia at home, Real at home, and Villareal away (teams 2-5 in La Liga as of last Sunday), we would find out the true mettle of this team. Were they merely showmen against the also-rans who would struggle against the top dogs?
On the basis of the first half of that challenging schedule, the answer is a resounding no. Last week, on the road against Sevilla, Barca handily won 3-0. It was a strange sort of game, because while Barca controlled the game, they hardly dominated it. True scoring chances were scarce. Nevertheless, when they (specifically, Eto'o) got one, they buried it. It was a very Champions League-ish type game, because you got the sense that one mistake, or one moment of flashing brilliance would be the difference, simply because they weren't going to be that many chances against a really solid Sevilla team. And for most of the game, it played out that way, with the Eto'o goal keeping Barca ahead. And then, late in the second half, the Messiah put away two chances, and that was that.
Watching them today against Valencia was even more impressive. At home and necessarily more free-flowing, they never missed a beat. Indeed, they looked like they were on cruise control for ninety minutes, not even really trying. Henry, after bitching and whining about how much he has to run because he has to play on the left, put up instead of shutting up, scoring a hat-trick as the suspended Eto'o sat on the bench. Dani Alves added one for good measure. So if you're keeping track at home, that's a 7-0 aggregate as Barca stepped into the ostensibly difficult part of their schedule. In 14 games in La Liga this season, they have now scored an astonishing 44 goals (and let just nine in).
And it's not just that they're winning, but how they're winning. Xavi especially has been brilliant this season, and is the motor that keeps everything running. They're such a smooth team when in form, and right now - not to sound overly bullish - they look nigh on unbeatable.
Next week? Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. As George W. Bush said, bring 'em on.