Barca still the team to beat – Mendieta

The Liga champions remain the team to beat this season both domestically and in Europe despite FIFA’s enforced transfer ban, according to their former midfielder

Gaizka Mendieta feels all-conquering Barcelona are well placed to continue their dominance both at home and abroad this season.

Barca swept the board with a league, cup and UEFA Champions League treble last season, as Luis Enrique’s first season in charge at the Nou Camp ended in the same glory as Pep Guardiola’s had six years earlier.

FIFA’s enforced transfer ban means new signings Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, who arrived from Atletico Madrid and Sevilla respectively, cannot play until January, Mendieta reckons the Catalan club are best placed to retain the Champions League while also remaining the team to beat in La Liga.

“They’re still the favourites for me,” the ex-Spain international said.

“They have a team with the same players and same manager as last year, and I think that takes a bit of the advantage from Madrid.

“But, Madrid is Madrid! We’ve seen the power they’ve got, the team they’ve got, and with [new coach Rafael] Benitez now I think they’re going to get better. 

“Obviously it takes time, but I think it’s still between Madrid and Barcelona.”

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