The start of 2024 has been similar to the end of 2023 for Barcelona.
Unfortunately for Barcelona, that is not a good thing.
The performances against Las Palmas in LaLiga and against UD Barbastro left much to be desired with the same defensive mistakes rearing their ugly heads.
The club now gets another fresh start, so to speak, in the Spanish Super Cup where they will face off against Osasuna in the semifinal. For Xavi Hernandez and his team, it's yet another opportunity to right the ship on what has been a disappointing season.
"I have full confidence in my players. In most games we have performed well and the team is prepared to compete," Xavi said. "We are physically and mentally fit to compete in the Super Cup."
Last season, Barcelona won the Spanish Super Cup, beating Real Betis in the semifinals before playing arguably one of their best games of the season in the final, besting Real Madrid 3-1.
In some ways, the win over Real Madrid and the title proved an inflection point where the side's belief in itself and the sporting project took hold. It's something Xavi hopes they can repeat once more.
On paper, Barcelona head into the match as favorites. Osasuna currently sit 12th in LaLiga and sit middle of the pack in terms of goal scoring. But Barcelona aren't exactly solid at the back. Lapses in concentration and basic mistakes have cost the Catalans throughout the season.
Against UD Barbastro, they gave up two goals to a side playing in the fourth tier of Spanish football. The point is Barcelona can be got at and have been.
In attack, Barcelona have struggled as well with Robert Lewandowski mired in one of the poorest stretches of his career. He's missed chances that he would have put away in seasons prior and looks out of joint with the rest of his teammates. Vitor Roque, brought in to try improve the goal scoring rate, has had a couple of chances to score his first goal with the team but has fluffed those chances.
"We have a great team, We aren't quite clinical in both areas. But we have top quality players to turn this situation around," said Ronald Araujo.
Time is running out in terms of trying to turn the situation around. Especially if Barcelona want to use the Super Cup as a launching point for the second half of the season.
Working somewhat in their favor is they could possibly count on the return of Pedri. The young midfielder traveled with the team to Saudi Arabia where it is expected he could see some minutes against Osasuna. Joao Cancelo, who also made the trip, is unlikely to play as he recovers from an injury he picked up in the match against Las Palmas.
Getting past Osasuna isn't going to be an easy task given Barcelona's performances this season. Being unable to defend properly and struggling to score isn't exactly a recipe for success.
"We want to find our game again and keep it going," Xavi said, "We need to play a complete game against a solid side, who have a great coach who can generate all kinds of different scenarios. The click we need to win might come from winning the Super Cup, it certainly helped last season."
Should Barcelona manage to get past Osasuna, they then will meet the winner of the other semifinal between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the final/