Eleven games into the season and Barcelona have shaken off their early-season woes to establish their dominance over the top tier in Spain, having played a game less than other clubs in La Liga.
Going into the weekend round of fixtures, Barcelona sit at the top of the table having won seven, drawn one and lost two out of 10 games, with a game in hand – the postponed El Clasico. In the process, they have scored 28 goals and conceded 11, meaning they have a goal difference of +17, the highest in the league, with the second-highest being +10, recorded by seventh-placed Villareal (Skysports).
It is expected that Barcelona have a good season. However, the numbers surrounding their football thus far in the league are outrageous, considering how the season started off for the club.
Valverde struggled to find balance in his relatively new squad at the beginning of the season, because of the new signings as well as the injuries to key players of the squad. This made their start to the season shaky which was also their worst start to the season in over five seasons. This didn’t affect their home run, however.
Barcelona have won every match at home, scoring five goals on three occasions and four on one occasion. On the road, however, they have not been as prolific, even though they look to be shaking that off with their last away match ending in a 3-0 victory against Eibar.
The most amazing part of it all are the numbers behind their rising form this season. Last season, Barcelona finished with a +54-goal difference, which was more than impressive considering how bad their defence was. Well, it was largely due to Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s brilliance between the sticks as well as poor finishing from other clubs in La Liga, but it was impressive nonetheless as the second-highest was +26 (Atletico Madrid). Their 90-goal tally from the season was gotten from a meagre average xG ratio of 0.25 per game, from a total of 564 total shots from all situations (via understat).
This season, their average xG ratio per game is a lot lower (0.1) but unlike last season where they outscored their total xG of 85.98 by 4.02 goals, they have outscored their xG of 17.34 this season by a whopping 10.66 goals from all game situations (per understat).
Also per understat, their XPTS (expected points) tally at this stage of the season also is a testament to how much the club has overachieved. Based on this stat from their performances, they should be fifth on the La Liga table. Atletico Madrid has the highest XPTS tally with 22.09 but sit fourth on the table with 20 points. Villareal, who sit at seventh place on the table with 17 points have an XPTS of 21.11, which should place them at second on the table based on their performances this season. Yet, it is Barcelona who sit top of the league with 22 points having played a game less than the others due to their El Clasico postponement, from an XPTS of 16.98.
For one, this is an indication of how well Valverde and his team have recovered from their earlier slump. And it is an indicator of how dangerous Barcelona is becoming.
Barcelona is on course to pull a major upset as regards footballing numbers this season and we are here for it. However, how long they can keep the momentum remains to be seen.