Barcelona merit Spanish bragging rights even if Madrid conquer Europe
When Cristiano Ronaldo scored the equalizer at the Camp Nou on Sunday night, fans of Barcelona were rightly sceptical of their team’s ability to avoid defeat. The sending off of Spanish international, Sergi Roberto moments before the end of the first half increased such fears but the genius of Lionel Messi and the new-found defensive resilience this season came to the fore once more. The result ensures that Barcelona kept their unbeaten run in the La Liga, leaving them just three matches away from going through their entire campaign without tasting defeat.
The obsession with going unbeaten affected them in the Champions League, but Barcelona will be happy with what they have done so far, even if Real Madrid win their third consecutive continental crown. The Blaugrana have crashed out in the quarter-finals in the last three seasons, but that doesn’t negate the work done by Ernesto Valverde this term. With Madrid playing in the Champions League final against Liverpool later this month, it is not a given that Zinedine Zidane’s men will win the showpiece, but next season, Barcelona will hope to win the tournament for the first time in four years.
The last team to go unbeaten in the Spanish top flight incidentally was Real Madrid, but that was close to a hundred years ago and in fewer games. In a 38-game campaign, Barcelona have the chance to be invincible, and that is one that will make the entire Madrid camp green with envy. Barcelona have won the double this term, annihilating Sevilla in the Copa Del Rey final at the Wanda Metropolitano last month, a fantastic feat by Valverde, who many felt couldn’t replicate the work done by Guardiola and Enrique.
Playing with a man down against their bitter rivals, Real Madrid and playing them off the park is a testament to how Los Cules have dominated their domestic rivals this term. Next season, they will build on this success by buying more quality players to mount a serious assault on the Champions League next term. Antoine Griezmann is expected to sign for the league leaders, and form a fantastic trident with Messi and Suarez while the availability of Coutinho in the Champions League next season will make them stronger.
Going without defeat against Real Madrid was the biggest test in Barcelona’s season, and they have passed in flying colours. Key moments in the league showed how hard Barcelona have worked for their unbeaten run. Away at the Bernabeu in December, Barcelona defeated Real 3-0 and also came from behind from two goals down away at Sevilla as well as away at Valencia and at Atletico. The likes of Paulinho, Rakitic, Umtiti and Pique have been phenomenal while special praise goes to Messi, Ter Stegen and Suarez.
If Barcelona can avoid defeat in the remaining league matches, it means that they will hold two records that their bitter rivals, Real can’t boast of: winning the Treble (twice) and going the entire season without tasting defeat. They will be rooting for Liverpool in Catalonia come May 26 in the Champions League final.