In poker terms, the addition of Neymar means the Catalans are holding all the cards
It’s an established fact that in online poker, when it comes to presenting a winning hand, it doesn’t come any better than the illusive Royal Straight Flush.
That rarely seen combination of King, Queen, Jack, Ten and Ace, all in the same suit, remains the ultimate hand for each and every player the world over.
So when it comes to the current selection of players on the Barcelona roster, it really doesn’t take a poker player to tell you that the La Liga champions are holding all the cards going into next season.
Let’s have a look at the Royal Straight Flush presented by Barca for the oncoming campaign.
The Ten of Hearts – Dani Alves
Since arriving at the Nou Camp for £30 million back in July 2008, Alves has established himself as the best right back in the world and he remains an integral part of the team, both going forward and defensively.
The Brazilian was a key part of Barca’s march to a record-breaking La Liga crown and, at this summer’s Copa Libertadores, put in the kind of nerveless performance usually witnessed among the world’s best poker players.
Cool under pressure and confident in his play, he’s definitely one you want to have in your pack.
Jack of Hearts – Andreas Iniesta
A mainstay of the Barcelona midfield throughout the Pep Guardiola era, while his mentor may have now departed for Bayern, Iniesta shows no signs of tiring at both club and international level.
The Confederations Cup may have ended in disappointment for Spain, but Iniesta enjoyed a solid tournament off the back of yet another season in which he made over 40 appearances for the Catalans – something he has done in each of their last nine campaigns.
Skilful and with an eye for goal – as his winner in the 2010 World Cup Final showed – this Jack of all trades remains a master of one in particular: football.
Queen of Hearts – Xavi
With Carlos Puyol edging closer towards retirement, Xavi has stepped into the role of rabble-rouser in chief, thanks in no small part to his Catalan roots and general ‘heart’ for the club’s cause.
Essentially representing the heartbeat of the Barcelona side in all of its attacking endeavours, it’s apt that Xavi sits in the role of Queen, controlling the movement and direction of the team with a calm and collected air most befitting of a monarch.
King of Hearts – Lionel Messi
Who else but the Argentine sensation could occupy the role of King at Barcelona. With 42 goals in 36 league games last season, the 26-year-old is approaching the peak of his powers for both club and country.
His absence against Bayern Munich last season reflected on his importance as the King of Barca’s pack. Without the forward, the Catalans had little to counter the various Kings, Queens and Aces held by the Germans. They won’t get so lucky a deal next time though.
Ace of Hearts – Neymar
Who else but new boy Neymar could fill the role of Ace at Barcelona? Representing a new card in the Barcelona attack, his versatility and high profile could make him the perfect solution to nullify even the strongest of hands offered by Europe’s other big boys.
Following his summer exploits for Brazil, and given that he is just 21, this is one Ace that could even trump the mighty Messi one day, as Barca’s leading attacker.
The cards dealt to Barcelona certainly look good – it’s now up to the Catalans to use them correctly.