Barça are winter champions for the 27th time, and went on to win the LaLiga Santander title on two-thirds of the previous occasions

FC Barcelona is halfway there to their ultimate pre-season objective, which was to win LaLiga Santander. The Catalan club faced Real Betis on Wednesday night for their 19th fixture of the 2022/23 league campaign and won 2-1, meaning they finish the first half of the season in first place on 50 points.

This also means that FC Barcelona is winter champions, the term given to the team that sits top of the standings at the halfway stage of a league season. This is the 27th time that Barça have been the winter champions, and they have gone on to lift the trophy on 17 of those previous occasions, which is 65%.

FC Barcelona is also the team that holds the record for the highest points tally in the first half of the season. It was in the 2012/13 season when Tito Vilanova was in the dugout and Los Culés got 55 points in 19 games. It has never been repeated yet.

Looking at the history of the entire competition, which started back in 1929 and which is currently in its 92nd season, 50 of the previous 91 winter champions (55%) went on to finish in first place at the end of those campaigns. This trend has been even more prevalent in the three-points-for-a-win era, as 21 of the 27 winter champions (78%) since 1995/96 have ultimately lifted the trophy at the end of the year.

The warnings of 2019/20

FC Barcelona won’t be resting on their laurels, though, as one of the rare occasions in which they topped the table at the halfway stage but not when it mattered most was in 2019/20, their most recent experience of being winter champions.

That was a turbulent season for a variety of reasons, including the mid-season switch from Ernesto Valverde to Quique Setién and the three-month pause to football because of the breakout of the coronavirus pandemic. On that occasion, Real Madrid came back from lockdown in the hottest form and wrestled the top spot away from Barça.

But, in each of the past two seasons, Spain’s winter champion did go on to taste champagne at the end of the season. Atlético de Madrid was top at the halfway stage of 2020/21 and Diego Simeone’s side held off the challenge of Real Madrid to get the job done. Then, Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid raced into a large mid-season lead in 2021/22 and went on to clinch the championship with weeks to spare.

Reasons to believe FC Barcelona can finish the job

There are various reasons to feel confident about Barça’s chances of going on to win the 2022/23 La Liga Santander trophy this time around, as they look to become both winter champions and end-of-season champions for the first time since 2018/19.

The main reason to believe in the Catalan side is the fact that they have a huge points total of 50, having only dropped seven points so far. Never before has a club not gone on to win the title when they’ve had at least 50 points to their name and a multiple-point lead in the table at the halfway stage, as the Blaugrana do now.

More than that, FC Barcelona have achieved their half-century of points by playing some very good football. They sit top of the pile for several key stats, as they’re first in possession (65%), shots on target (107), goals scored (39) and goals conceded (7).

In Robert Lewandowski, they have the leading goalscorer in the division, as the Polish striker is currently topping the Pichichi Trophy charts with 14 strikes. At the other end, Marc-André ter Stegen is in the best form of his career as he has conceded just seven league goals in 19 appearances, with that ratio of 0.37 goals conceded per game placing him as the firm favourite for this year’s Zamora Trophy.

Then, in between the goalkeeper and the strikers, FC Barcelona boasts a solid back line, featuring young-but-experienced players such as Jules Koundé and Ronald Araújo, while the midfield of Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Gavi is among the best in the world. With an in-form Ousmane Dembélé wreaking havoc on opposition full-backs, this FC Barcelona squad is certainly capable of finishing the job. Over the coming months, we’ll find out if they can hold off the threat of their closest challengers, Real Madrid.

MG Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *