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 Camp Nou ended in the same glory as Pep Guardiola’s had six years earlier.
FIFA’s transfer ban on the Catalan club meant they were unable to freshen up their stellar squad for the first half of the season during the recently closed window.
While Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal arrived from Atletico Madrid and Sevilla respectively, they cannot play until January.
But ex-Spain midfielder Mendieta, who played for Barca in 2002-03, believes that may even work in his former club’s favour when compared to arch-rivals Real Madrid.
When asked if Barca can become the first team to retain the Champions League while also remaining the team to beat in La Liga, Mendieta told Omnisport: “They’re still the favourites for me. 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.”