BARCELONA: Barcelona simply will not lose. It refuses to. Every time it finds itself in a hole, one of its superstars lifts it out. And more often than not, that superstar is either Luis Suarez or Lionel Messi.
On Sunday, it was both. Barca trailed 17th-place Alaves for almost 50 minutes at home, its unbeaten La Liga record dangling by fewer and fewer threads as the minutes ticked away at Camp Nou. But then Suarez struck.
Alaves screamed for a penalty in the final minutes of the 90. They remonstrated with the referee after the final whistle as well. But it was not to be.
It rarely has been against Barcelona. Not only are the La Liga leaders still unbeaten, 21 games in, with 17 to go; they’ve also only drawn three of the 21. They’re 11 points clear of second-place Atletico Madrid, and 19 clear of annual title rival Real Madrid.
But you probably know all of that by now. You know Barcelona is going to reclaim the title. Everybody in Spain has known that for a while. Pretty soon, the discussion is going to turn to a new topic.
It’s going to turn to the unbeaten season, if it hasn’t already. The accomplishment is still far off in the distance. But with every weekend, it becomes slightly more realistic.
Barca has already returned unscathed from its three most difficult domestic trips of the season, to the Bernabeu, Wanda Metropolitano and Mestalla. It still must go to Sevilla, and host both Madrid sides and Valencia. The Barcelona derby next weekend, at Espanyol, won’t be easy either.
But Barcelona, despite not exactly flying through its league slate, doesn’t look like slowing down. That’s the thing: Barca wasn’t good on Sunday. Philippe Coutinho started in La Liga for the first time, and the hosts looked a bit incoherent in the first half, with a bevy of similar players, a lack of definition and little width.
But despite its imperfections, Barca’s record remains perfect. And pretty soon, a 38-game unblemished record will at least begin to come into focus.