On Wednesday afternoon, FC Barcelona lost 1-0 to Atletico Madrid, sending the visitors crashing out of the UEFA Champions League in the quarterfinals. The loss was a huge one, in that it all but renders the 2013-14 campaign a failure for Barcelona; it also marks the end of such a dominant era for the club.
Throughout this individual game, Barcelona were clearly the inferior team, even if they did take home 71 percent of the possession. Ateltico won the shot battle 15-12 in total shots, 5-3 in shots on net, and Barcelona was generally kept outside the box and on the back foot. The partnership of Lionel Messi and Neymar was once again non-existent, and it must be wondered out loud if the two will ever effectively co-exist against top sides.
In terms of outlook for the current campaign, Barcelona sit in full contention for La Liga, as they are one point behind Atletico Madrid for first place, and the two look set to determine the winner in a season finale matchup. The other competition that Barcelona remain in is the Copa del Rey, and they will begin a two leg final against Real Madrid in just a week. It would seem that at best, Barcelona will win one of these two trophies, and at worst, they will be left with only the Supercopa de Espana.
Moving into a more far reaching outlook, it seems as if Barcelona is doomed to remain stagnant, while Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid continue getting better. One major reason for this is that the club has just been banished from conducting any transfers for the next two windows, which, if upheld, means that the club is essentially left to continue trying to win with an aging club.
Victor Valdes, Xavi Hernandez, Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano, Andres Iniesta and Adriano are all at least 29 years of age already, and who knows the type of form they may have after competing in the World Cup this summer. This core is already nowhere near the level they were at while winning 13 trophies from 2009-11, and even the likes of Messi, Gerard Pique, Pedro and Sergio Busquets have begun to show signs of fatigue from the wear and tear associated with playing 60 matches a year. There is no doubting that this general group will need reinforcements to win, and they won’t be coming anytime soon.
The age of Barcelona’s dominance has now made way for an era of stifling madness and a backseat to Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Unless Martino can suddenly find a fountain of youth, the club is destined to compete and fall short of major titles for at least the next year, and very likely a longer period than that.