FC Barcelona: Are the Blaugrana Still the Best in the World?

Matthew CelentanoFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2012

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 24:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final, second leg match between FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC at Camp Nou on April 24, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In case you've been living under a rock, Barcelona recently bowed out of the 2012 Champions League, losing 3-2 on aggregate to Chelsea in the semifinal after a 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp.

Many see this as one of the greatest upsets in Champions League history, with Chelsea having been completely outplayed (just 17 percent possession) and still getting the result they needed.

But what does this mean for Barcelona?

For the past three seasons, Barcelona have been dominant in both Spain and Europe, winning three La Liga titles, two Champions League titles, two Club World Cups, one Copa del Rey title and two European Cups.

That's 10 trophies in three seasons. Let that sink in for a bit...

After securing a delightful double last season as winners of La Liga and the Champions League, Pep Guardiola attempted to secure further success with two big signings in Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas.

However, things at the Nou Camp haven't exactly been ideal this season by Barcelona's incredible standards. Recently losing 2-1 at home to Real Madrid in El Clasico, the Blaugrana now find themselves seven points adrift of their archrivals in first place, likely to lose out on the La Liga title for this season. 

With that said, winning the Champions League looked like Barca's best bet at a major piece of silverware for this season. Despite being upset 1-0 at Chelsea, many predicted a rampant win at the Nou Camp to see the Catalan giants progress to the final.

But as you know, that isn't the case.

Barcelona now have one last shot at a trophy this season with the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao in about a month, but even if they do win that, are Pep Guardiola's men still the best in the world?

There are plenty of reasons why they could still be considered the best: their way of playing the beautiful game, the fact that they have the best players in the world and their pedigree.

But there are also a few reasons why they shouldn't be considered the best in the world. If I were a Barcelona fan, I'd be worried about the incapability to score enough goals at the Nou Camp against a 10-man Chelsea team that's had a leaky defense domestically all season.

Another reason is, quite simply, trophies. Can you really call yourself the best in the world without winning the largest club competition in Europe or even your domestic league?

Perhaps the most serious reason of all is the age of a few players in the squad. Xavi, the team's engine and one of the reasons for Barcelona's dominance in the past three seasons, isn't getting any younger. Although he still consistently delivers the goods, he's 32 years old, past his prime and has trouble competing a full 90 minutes these days.

Puyol is another player who's well past his prime—34 years old and not the same defender that he used to be.

The point is, with Barcelona's shocking Champions League exit and lack of silverware this season, are they still the best team in the world?

Leave your answer in the comments below.