Another round, another record falls at the feet of Pep Guardiola’s squad. With a potential total of ten games left, it’s setting up to be a season that would make Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team jealous. Barcelona's week 32 win over Sevilla was number 26 of the campaign, setting the club record for most wins in a single 38-game season. And while we're not quite ready to crown this team as 'history's best Barça' yet, we are tantalizingly close.
The Blaugrana's biggest strength lies in its collective play. That may be an oversimplification, but it's the single biggest difference between the Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola versions. Samuel Eto'o and Victor Valdes are both having career years (yes, Valdes too), but neither would take team MVP honors ahead of Xavi, Iniesta or Puyol, let alone Messi. Eto'o has a career-best 27 goals on the season and with six games left, he has a legitimate shot to become the first player to score 30 in La Liga since Ronaldo's 34 in '97. The much-criticized Valdes (far less criticized lately), extended his shut-out streak to 622 minutes, passing club icon Andoni Zubizarreta for the second longest in club history.
Valdes has been the single biggest beneficiary of Barça’s collective quality. No one would argue that he’s a better keeper than Iker Casillas, and yet he’s having a superior season thanks to a stellar defense that starts all the way at the top. It’s as close to total football as we’ve seen since Cruyff. However, as Guardiola said when Barça set the league record for most points at the winter break: it’s all just anecdotes unless they win titles.
The upcoming Clasico could see Barça stuff even more anecdotes in one pocket and the league title in the other. La Liga’s all-time record for wins in a 38-game season is 28, set by Real Madrid in 1987-88. Barça can match that mark at the Santiago Bernabeu, with back-to-back wins over Valencia and Madrid. The Merengues could also see their total points record broken on their home pitch, as beating Valencia would send Barça to the capitol with 84 points, one shy Madrid’s ‘87-88 record season.