Anyone who has been a football fan for more than a decade can recall a time not too long ago when Barcelona was simply unstoppable. The 2011 season, in particular, was when almost every football team just wanted to mirror the tiki-taka brilliance that was Barcelona. The team maintained the momentum for several years and in 2015 they won yet another continental treble (domestic league and cup competitions and UEFA Champions League).
Since then, it is objectively and statistically fair to say the team has tapered off. The most recent example was this past weekend’s El Classico (Barcelona vs Real Madrid) when Real Madrid bested them once again 2-1. This result is what has sparked the discussion on Barcelona’s fate considering their form at present.
Throughout the years of Barcelona dominance, Real Madrid was always several strides behind as Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo watched Barcelona and Lionel Messi amass accolades. This is when the rivalry between the two teams ripened, causing the world to stop when they locked horns. However, it now appears the script has been flipped and Real Madrid has become the favourite in the match-up. This is the case despite Real Madrid losing ex-talisman Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona still having theirs in Lionel Messi.
In Barcelona’s defence, a lot has changed over the years. A lot is a change in their management, team and playstyle. There is a plethora of catalyst to blame for the current state of affairs in the Catalan camp. However, it can be argued that Real Madrid went through somewhat similar changes.
In any case, despite this past weekend’s results putting Real Madrid one point shy of the top of the La Liga table, only 1 point separates them from Barcelona who now sits in third and two points behind Atletico Madrid.
For some, it might be too close to call as Barcelona has still remained relevant having won 6 domestic league titles to Real Madrid’s 3 over the past decade. However, Real Madrid fans will be the first to remind you of their 4 champions league titles to Barcelona’s 2 this past decade.
In conclusion, the rivalry has aged well and the better team appears to be dependent on who is asked.