Messi, Suarez and Neymar shine but Barcelona boosted by collective
Barcelona are only eight matches away from a historic treble. Although winning La Liga, the Spanish Cup and the Champions League will certainly be a challenge, the mere fact that the possibility exists at this late stage of the season is remarkable.
Barca are a pleasure to watch at this moment in time. The positive results have helped the team build a considerable amount of self-confidence and built a supportive attitude within their highly demanding fan base.
Undoubtedly, Barca would be in a very different position without the combined 102 goals Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar have netted this season. The huge investment in order to reinforce this area in the past couple of years has certainly made an impact, transforming the attack of a team in decline into the most effective in world football.
Fans have been spoilt with a huge number of world-class forwards but the current attack is potentially the most feared front three in over 115 years.
The Barcelona side that won the treble in 2009 boasted Samuel Eto'o as the main striker and both Thierry Henry and an emerging Messi out wide. Such a system has traditionally worked best with a central attacking reference.
Suarez's joining was the decisive factor that boosted the squad to genuine contenders. The Uruguayan's nuisance factor for opposition defences has added a new dimension to the team's play.
The added threat that Suarez has forces both rival centre-backs to hold their positions at the heart of defence, meaning that both Messi and Neymar have fewer defenders to beat on their way to their rival's goalkeeper. And we all know what happens whenever any of those are get an inch of space -- spectacular goals, jaw-dropping dribbling slaloms and a bunch of crucial points added to Barcelona's tally.
While the front three deservedly attract the attention of football fans all over the planet, nobody should overlook the contributions by others that allow them to shine.
Look no further than the team captain for an obvious example. Xavi Hernandez, 35, continues to perform at a level most professionals will never be able to reach at the peak of their careers.
Although his speed and stamina have waned as years have passed, the combination of his unique vision, exquisite class and endless enthusiasm allows him to play a decisive part whenever coach Luis Enrique needs him.
Many would assume this would instantly grant him a place in the starting XI. Wrong. Luis Enrique's decisions in crucial matches so far this year indicate his preference for Andres Iniesta's creativity further up the field and Ivan Rakitic's more physical, all-around approach further back.
It is clear the leaders in attack and competition for places has improved the team. The more competition, the better.
The healthy rivalry that Claudio Bravo and Marc Andre Ter-Stegen have developed this year has brought out the best in both goalkeepers too. Bravo is heading for his first Zamora trophy for the fewest goals conceded in the league while Ter-Stegen, 22, is only two matches away from potentially starting in the Champions League final.
Having every single player available for selection in late May is unprecedented. Whether it is due to Enrique's meticulous preparation or incredibly good luck until this point remains unclear, but reaching this crucial stage with the whole squad fit and ready is a first after years of struggle due to ongoing injuries.
Every football lover on the planet knows that nothing can be taken for granted. Setbacks can happen at any time, especially when players get complacent, lose focus or lack the necessary hunger for success.
There are many signs that indicate that Enrique's Barcelona are on the right track but titles aren't awarded until the final whistle in the final match of the season.