FC Barcelona have just crashed out of the Champions League, lost the invaluable Pep Guardiola at the reins, and face an imminent relinquishment of La Liga. For a team that is a two-time consecutive winner of the Champions League title, and a three-time consecutive winner of La Liga, this is disappointing to say the least.
This year, they will have no silverware to show, with the exception of a potential Copa del Rey title. Nevertheless, such an aberration has led to widespread calls regarding Barcelona's decline. However, such calls are not only premature, but inaccurate.
These calls have led to the once unheard of notion that Barcelona is no longer the best team in the world. There are a few easily perceivable problems with such a claim. Firstly, if not Barcelona then who? Logically, there must always be a best team in the world, and when compared to other existing teams, Barcelona undoubtedly retains its top spot.
Is it Chelsea, the team that cannot even break into the top four in the Premier League? Some may say, yes, as Barcelona was defeated by Chelsea. Does this mean then, that when the Queen Park Rangers trumped Chelsea, that they were the better team?
Or is it Real Madrid? They have after all recaptured La Liga. But Manchester City, or Manchester United may soon capture the Premier League. Where does this render them on the list?
Other suggestions are likewise weak. Furthermore, despite the importance of the recent games played, Barcelona has remained consistently one of the best teams this season. A few mistakes do not define a team.
The current team, as it is, largely retains the same players that have been with the team during its successes. Most of these players have not experienced any marked decline, and the players continue to play with characteristic fluidity.
Finally, there is one intangible element that must be considered in regards to the so-called demise of Barcelona. The fall of Barcelona, will, and can only occur as their majestic passing style, dubbed tiki taka, is no longer.
Just as recently as these past few games, this has not been the case. Bara continue to dominate possession, and create chances.
Barcelona have suffered a few unfortunate results. However, this does not by any means render the end of an epoch. The zenith that is Barcelona remains, and will remain for some time to come.