How I learned to stop worrying and love the club. Things seemed dire before the match, third place in La Liga, one foot out of the Copa del Rey, but let’s conveniently forget to talk about Champions League play and the Lionel Messi free kick in San Mamés. It took three perfect works of art to change everything back to normal for the club. A three to one victory in Camp Nou not only sees FC Barcelona progress to the next round and silence numerous doubters, but also remind the world of the three exquisite match winning forwards the club possesses.
Athletic Club was ravenous in the first half and thrashed an uninspired FC Barcelona two to one in the first leg of their round of 16 Copa Del Rey matchup. Barcelona will cry foul after the match which saw more than one unique decision from referee Fernandez Borbalan. Lionel Messi netted a valuable away free kick goal but was mostly ineffective in a match which Neymar was the sole bright spot.
There was a night in Berlin when hundreds of millions of viewers tuned in to watch a match between the best two clubs in Europe. Juventus had just beaten Real Madrid off a great performance from Madrid’s own Alvaro Morata, and Barcelona had just squeezed through a stacked Bayern Munich team, coached by Barcelona’s former manager, and perennial title winner, Pep Guardiola. The teams were different then than now, Juventus having a lineup with Pirlo, Vidal, Pogba, Morata, and Carlos Tevez; Barça still employed the services of Xavi and Pedro. Rakitic gave Barça the lead early on, but Morata equalized ten minutes into the second half. With the game tight and Juventus gaining ground, Messi’s shot was blocked wide and Suárez put it back in to give Barcelona the lead. To finish it off, as we all know, and Neymar struck late and gave Barcelona a 3-1 lead. They had won the treble: La Liga, La Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League.
Going into this game, I didn’t think this team could make me any happier or prouder than it had last season. After the buzz last season created, with the team coming from the depths of Anoeta-induced despair to win the coveted treble, this season had a lot to live up to. If any team could live up to the lofty expectations a treble creates though, it was this one, and this game proved beyond any doubt that this group of players and its extremely underrated coach are special.
That said, the opponents aren’t here to hand the trophy to the Catalans. Sevilla have just come back from Basel after easing past Liverpool to retain the Europa League and make it their third in a row, and their fifth in history (including the Uefa Cup).