Barcelona has, for all practical purposes, been great this season. This isn’t a personal opinion but rather fact. Perspective, however, can confuse fans of the club and it would be difficult to fault them for it. The Catalans have won 3 trophies so far, namely, Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup. All three required the participants to have previously won a major trophy and simply cannot be taken lightly. There is a sense of pride that all Culés feel when they know that only their team is allowed to wear the "World Champions" insignia on the shirt. The Blaugrana are in the final of the Copa Del Rey and have qualified for the Champions League Quarter Finals with a good chance to progress further if they can get past A.C Milan. Any team in Europe would consider the season a huge (really really huge) success.
But, if you were to ask the average fan on their thoughts on the season so far, chances are they will be noncommittal on the subject and will choose to pass judgement only after the Champions League is done on the 19th of May. The reason for this reversion to the cautiously peptimistic point of view (as opposed to the cocky and slightly arrogant show that many Cules had before the season) is of course Barca’s standings in the league.
To many, it has been a disappointing league and they wouldn’t be wrong. However, fact is, fans have become too used to seeing Barca destroy everybody and have assumed that winning the 4th league title was only natural. Certain facts that really do say it all:
In La Liga,
Barcelona: 18 Wins, 6 Draws, 2 Losses
Real Madrid: 23 Wins, 1 Draw, 2 Losses
Yes, referees cost us atleast 6 points this season but that isn’t an excuse for Barcelona. Other teams may continue complaining, and in fact we as fans can complain as well but not the team or the coach.
The above stats say a couple of things loud and clear, which is, it isn’t that bad a season. Any other league and Barcelona would have been leading the table. However considering the expectations at our club is much higher, 6 draws is unacceptable(I feel stupid just saying that but it is how it is right?).
Which brings me to the main point. It seems that fans, including myself, have fallen victim to the constant drone of the media about La Liga being a 2 horse race to the point that all we do is talk about the Clasicos. This is a league and like all leagues, 2 matches don’t really matter. Real Madrid and moreover, Jose Mourinho has realised this. Inspite of his mind numbing antics, Por Que knew even before the season started that he could afford to lose both Clasicos as long as he could get the team to perform at a supernatural level the rest of the time. Aim for 36 wins so that 2 losses to Barcelona will not make a difference
This is something we have lost track of. It might even be said that the team lost the point somewhere along the way, because of all the noise that the Spanish media creates. Referees, as I mentioned above, cannot be made the excuse but nobody can deny that Madrid have got pretty much every call in their favour plus some and for Barcelona, it was almost the opposite. So if referees cannot be made the scape-goat, it also must be said that, the opposite would be that all the help Madrid got goes to show that they aren’t exactly as good as their stats show them to be.
Next season, assuming Pep renews (I don’t even want to think of the situations if he doesn’t), Barcelona will just have to focus on the other 18 teams. Focus on beating them. Keep in mind, we have only lost twice in the league and that’s nothing but the 6 draws? All those matches had one thing in common which was slow movement of the ball or a lack of urgency combined with injuries and dodgy decisions. The injuries can be worked on, the urgency HAS to be worked on and if both are managed then the dodgy decisions will turn out to be irrelevant.
This season, as much as people would like to say it’s over, it isn’t. With 12 matches to go, Barcelona will have to get into the groove, no more losses or draws, focus only on the winning. Even what Real Madrid does or doesn’t do won’t matter because the idea is to find some rhythm so that the Blaugrana can win Champions League and have a smooth transition into Euro 12 and/or preseason.