Nobody, not even the super-fan, would have put money on Barcelona leading the La Liga towards the end of the season. The team is so dominant, they have lost only one game, and the lead at the top of the table is an almost un-assailable 11 points. Any optimism disappeared with Barcelona’s humiliation at the Spanish Super Cup. However, as hard as it is to imagine, Ernesto Valverde turned everything around and brought out the best of some the players at the same time. Here are some of the players that are thriving under his direction:
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen
Under the careful guidance of Valverde, Stegen’s goalkeeping has improved in leaps and bounds. He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and his recent performances might even put him close to the very top. Both his reflexes and his command of his zone have improved considerably since Valverde took over.
Alba’s is another big transformation under the new leadership. The change to a three central midfielder formation allows Alba to press forward in attack knowing he has the central defense behind him. The Spanish international also has two able partners in Umtiti and Vermaelen to fend off attackers on the left flank.
Umtiti had a low-key season last year after events at the club made a team of superstars look ordinary. However, under Valverde Umtiti’s stature had grown to the extent that fans reacted badly when he was injured in a 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo.