Barcelona must believe that the remainder of their season will result in those two trophies and provide them with the last laugh against their dreaded rivals
Barcelona won’t be celebrating back-to-back Champions League titles which, to be honest, is utterly disheartening. Players, coaching staff and supporters all the world over understood that repeating as European champions was a difficult feat, but they definitely weren't expecting to be knocked out after such a disappointing week.
Over in La Liga, Barcelona has watched their lead trickle down to nothing. They are now tied on points with Atletico Madrid and one point ahead of Real Madrid with five games remaining for all three teams.
Fortunately, not all is lost just yet. While the Champions League campaign has ended, Barcelona can still add two more trophies into their set of accomplishments if they can hold on in La Liga and win the Copa del Rey final.
The first major change needs to take place up top. The combination of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar traded places throughout the season for the player in top form, but each of the three were always seemingly a second away from adding to their own goal tally.
From the European Super Cup against Sevilla to their second leg against Arsenal in the Champions League, the trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar combined for 106 goals. Since then, they have mustered a mere four goals. This lack of effectiveness from the front three has affected Barcelona dearly.
While the current “crisis” has led to a dip in form and an accumulation of losses that Barcelona has not felt in some time, Cules should not forget the fantastic season that Barcelona played before their recent struggles. While winning the Champions League always seems to be the only deciding factor for success, a season in which a team wins their league, wins their league cup trophy and remains unbeaten for 39 straight games is still a very successful season.
Barcelona must believe that the remainder of their season will result in those two trophies and provide them with the last laugh against their dreaded rivals.
It is difficult to blame fans, however, for fearing the worst throughout the recent issues on the field. Even the legendary Carles Puyol has identified how shocking Barcelona’s recent lackluster play has been, saying, “It’s not normal to go unbeaten 39 consecutive games, nor is this normal.”
Puyol watched firsthand as former coach, current Bayern Munich and future Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola admitted to getting burned out at Barcelona due to the intensity that it takes to continue succeeding at such a high rate. After a string of such rampants victory this season, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the players were feeling the effects of pushing themselves too hard for such a sustained amount of time.
Another former teammate spoke up in support of his former team, and this time it was done in person. Former Barcelona target man Samuel Eto’o told the players that he was confident that they would triumph in La Liga. The Cameroon legend said, “You’ll win the league and I will come to your celebration!”
Whether Eto’o was asked to visit for morale or not, his message should be a reminder for the team and fans of Barcelona that this incarnation of the squad has add a remarkable previous year and they are still poised to accomplish great things in the remainder of this season as well.
While Luis Enrique has chosen to take the blame and players have blamed themselves as well, this slip would not be remembered as poignantly if he were able to guide his men to victory for the next few weeks and only concede the Champions League trophy this season.
It took a major dip in form for Barcelona to barely slip out of the Champions League and lose their lead in La Liga, but the season is not lost yet. The players that lead the Catalans on a 39-match unbeaten streak are still in pole position for a domestic double and, with the full support of their fans, have what it takes to bring further success to the Camp Nou museum.