Currently, the best team in the world is Real Madrid. Coming off a season where they won La Liga and the Champions League, there is little doubt that any team could measure their strength. They dominated the Champions League final, so technically, the second-best team in Europe couldn’t even put up a fight.
Real Madrid is a football power house. Their young midfield has years left of bossing domestic and European rivals. Their defense has the best right back and left back in the league, maybe even the world. Their attacking line has the monster that is Cristiano Ronaldo, who will always have the best-attacking players next to him. They are continually brilliant in the transfer market. They are always buying the best players and selling their talent for a profit.
This team is a well-oiled machine that made history last season by winning the Champions League back to back for the first time in history (in its current format). They are a team to be feared, and every team who went up against them last year played like they were afraid of them; except FC Barcelona. FC Barcelona will never be afraid to go toe-to-toe with Real Madrid like other teams are.
Mentally, FC Barcelona will push for the win until the final minute. And that is what happened on April 23rd at the Santiago Bernabéu. Messi scored a last minute winner, pushing the race for La Liga right until the final game. Some say this goal meant nothing, as Real Madrid still went on to win their 33rd La Liga title.
To those who want to romanticize the game, this goal meant everything. This goal said, “I will not allow you to dominate this game, this league, this continent, as you have done in the past. I will always try to beat you, because no one can beat you like I can.” The best team in Europe still couldn’t beat a weakened FC Barcelona. But they didn’t have to, another team did.
And Real Madrid went on to make history and capture another league title, making their fans ecstatic and making their haters even more bitter. Can Real Madrid win the Champions League again, for the third year in a row? Absolutely. If Ronaldo, Kroos, Modrić, Ramos, and Marcelo find their best form, they can capture their favorite tournament for the 13th time. FC Barcelona can not let this happen.
As a respected rival, as an institution, as men playing their favorite game, they cannot allow Real Madrid to win another Champions League title. So what they have to do, is win it themselves. If a talented player gets offers from both teams, that player is going to pick the team who will help him win trophies. Right now Real Madrid is that team. FC Barcelona no longer has the same pull that it used to have.
FC Barcelona has to win the Champions League, do or die. Forget the league and forget the cup. Their best player in their history, Lionel Messi, supported by his ridiculously talented team, can lead them to the Champions League. But they have to forget the other tournaments. Make the Champions League your absolute priority, or risk your eternal rival dominating Europe like they did in the past.
For your own fan base, for your own history, winning the Champions League is the only answer. For the graduates of La Masia who had to see their rivals since childhood lift the most prestigious trophy in club football twice in a row and for the players who were bought but learned to love the badge and city, a Champions League trophy will flip the script.
Win the trophy again, and you establish yourself as your rivals equal. The era of teams dominating Europe year after year is over, but it could be back again thanks to Real Madrid. The board and fans demand the trophy from the Catalans. The pressure is on FC Barcelona. Time will tell if they crack under it.