Gareth Bale came off the bench for Real Madrid and handed the club their third consecutive UCL on Saturday. It was an odd night that must have allowed Cules little sleep if any at all.
We often criticise Real Madrid, yank their chain and mock Zinedine Zidane for not being the most tactical coach in the world--all fair criticism riddled with banter. However, the blame for this season’s UCL is entirely on Barcelona.
Every major European contender underperformed this year and the fact that Liverpool was in the final establishes the hypothesis.
Great managers like Pep Guardiola have often signified the importance of the league and justified their prioritization in the name of consistency. It is true to a certain extent--a league punishes hot-cold performers, unlike the UCL which is knock-out based.
But a good squad would be able to face all challenges, irrespective of the kind of tournament being played.
We all thought that an invincible season would be special but even that dream was knocked out of the park. Valverde has done decently. I do not hate him as a coach. He knows what he knows and tries to implement it in the best possible manner. The problem isn’t the coach but the management which picks someone like Valverde.
Barcelona went unbeaten for a really long time but that thrill was constantly being downplayed because we weren’t performing against the best in the continent. I would rather see Barcelona win 1-0 over Bayern than see them thrash Levante 5-0.
Madrid has perfected the craft of winning the UCL and that doesn’t make them a better team. No team that cherry picks what matches to focus on can ever truly be great. However, Barcelona’s inability to survive in Europe is disheartening and the board needs to take some serious actions in order to survive the shift in power.
Madrid’s UCLs are paradoxes; you cannot be the best in Europe if you are not even the best in your own league. However, you cannot claim to be the greatest team in the world if you fall short against mid-table sides from Italy. We need change and we need it immediately.
This is not a rant. It is a cry for some damage control by a solitary fan.