After a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid that ended Barcelona’s Copa Del Rey run, the world’s most powerful club is in dire straits. If Barça fails to beat Madrid in the Saturday’s Clasico, the result will come with severe consequences for the team's season.
The disappointing performance comes on the heels of a shocking 2-0 loss to AC Milan in Barça’s first match of the knockout stages in Champions League. While losing a shot at the treble is regrettable, the domestic cup is easily the least important trophy for the Catalan giants.
With another La Liga title essentially already won, the team’s focus is in Europe, and the situation is not rosy at this point.
Even when Barcelona is in top form, cracking the Milan defense—which was extraordinarily disciplined and organized in the UCL fixture—would be a remarkably difficult task. To make matters worse, Barça is far from top form and must beat the Rossoneri’s back line multiple times.
The loss to Milan has started a run of poor showings from Barcelona, and the rut is occurring at a concerning time. Even a simple La Liga fixture against Sevilla proved to be a struggle, and the team ultimately salvaged three points after trailing at halftime.
Barça’s next match is another La Liga contest, and the showdown with Madrid will easily be the most important league game of the season. The title race has been effectively over for some time, but the club needs a fine showing against its rival to improve its form before the second leg against Milan.
The Barcelona attack will need to be extremely sharp and focused to crack the Italians’ hunkered-down defense, and these are qualities that have not aptly described the talented forward players recently.
Aside from the upcoming Clasico, the only other chance the team will have to improve its form before hosting Milan at the Camp Nou will be a league match against last-place Deportivo La Coruña. Even a victory in this contest likely will not inspire much confidence.
While the Copa Del Rey exit was certainly not ideal, this season can still certainly be viewed as a success. But this will not be the case if Barcelona bows out of Europe in the first knockout stage.
To save this season from disappointment, Barcelona must make up ground and move past AC Milan on March 12.
Even a team of Barça’s quality will find it tough to achieve such a difficult result after a string of poor performances. The club must turn its form around, and that has to start this Saturday at the Bernabeu.