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The Barcelona Paradox: Domestic Domination, European Disappointment

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Barcelona and Real Madrid have had inverse fortunes

Barcelona v Real Madrid - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

FC Barcelona are on the cusp of achieving the unthinkable: an unbeaten 38-game league season, something never done before. They’ve already broken the longest unbeaten streak ever, a run which reaches back to last season. And, they demolished Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final by the score of 5-0.

This is a league that features not only Real Madrid, but Atlético Madrid, two teams with incredible European success over the past few years. You can also add the likes of Sevilla, who have become specialists in winning the Europa League, and teams such as Valencia, Villarreal, and surprise packages like Real Betis.

How can Barcelona dominate a league so good and then do so poorly in Europe? Their Champions League away games in the knockout stages are outrageously poor: they lost 3-0 to AS Roma, 3-0 to Juventus, and 4-0 to Paris Saint-Germain. What’s slightly ludicrous about that is they actually eliminated PSG and only went out to Roma on away goals. Such is the disparity between home and away. Is there something the team is missing when traveling? Bad plane food?

It’s not a case of dominating a poor league and being exposed in Europe, because we see Real Madrid are doing extremely well in Europe despite being relatively poor in the league. So what gives?

Without a doubt, that weakness in away games is the primary culprit. But how can that be fixed? Barcelona have changed coaches. The strategies have changed. Some of the players have changed. Rotation policies have changed. What needs to change, and how? I open that question up to you in the comments.