Well, it’s official. The final whistle has sounded on Atletico Madrid’s highly impressive 1-0 victory over Barcelona that has not only seen the Catalans beaten, but bounced from the Champions League altogether, in what can only be called their worst performance of the season.
Koke struck early in the first half to give Los Colchoneros the 1-0 lead. The home side would go on to strike the post three times and could have been up by as much as four goals at the half.
While Atletico dazzled their fans and showed they are truly one of the best clubs in Europe, Barcelona underperformed beyond belief.
The Catalans were sloppy, uncreative and lacked any intensity whatsoever as their Spanish rivals took the game to them over and over again.
In the second half, things improved for Barcelona, but the result would be no different. Atletico would look to defend deep as the Blaugrana were able to get a few chances together, but nothing came from the space.
Again, it was the home side who were completely in control of the game as they broke on the counter-attack several times and nearly doubled their lead on a few occasions.
As the final whistle sounded, the result was both surprising and expected. The embarrassing play of Barcelona had fans in complete amazement, while followers of La Liga were not in the least surprised by the performance of Atletico Madrid.
It marked the second consecutive year that Barcelona had been eliminated from the European classic in a disappointing way and was felt on an emotional level by the fans.
To be fair, Atletico Madrid should receive all of the praise in the world at this point. Their time has truly come and they have proven that they belong among the European elite.
However, a dark cloud hovers over FC Barcelona at the present, and it looks more ominous with each passing day.
Yes, the disappointing Champions League result is not the worst thing to happen to the club over the last few days.
After FIFA handed Barcelona a staunch transfer ban due to their rule-breaking signing of underage players across international lines, all of the focus has been on what will happen next.
Many questions have been raised as to whether or not the club will be able to sign players this summer, even though Barcelona have officially appealed the sentence handed down by FIFA.
At this point, the immediate future of the Catalan giants is cloudy and uncertain at best.
Stars such as Xavi have come out to voice complaints against the transfer ban (via Goal.com), claiming “it's disproportionate and unjust,” while club President Josep Bartomeu has also hailed the ban as an “injustice”.
Regardless of what the club thinks about the ban, it doesn’t look like it will be lifted. Barcelona’s counter-argument that they treat their kids well does not exempt them from the rules, meaning their appeal will likely not hold any water.
What fans are seeing taking place at Barcelona at the moment is nothing short of disastrous. Not only is the club’s future at jeopardy due to the ban, but the club is also suffering on the pitch before the ban can even be put into action.
The result at the Vicente Calderon is simply the bittersweet icing on the Barcelona cake for the fans and the club.
At the moment, Barcelona need to address several problem areas. The defense is still struggling, creating chances is becoming tougher and the sheer lack of interest in games has become evident in the players.
In the spotlight is manager Tata Martino, who was brought in this summer and has yet to show he has the capability to motivate his stars or make changes when a match calls for tough decisions.
Truly, FC Barcelona is club walking in darkness right now. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel and the sun could come out tomorrow, but for now the Blaugrana will have to trudge through rain that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
In short, Barcelona are in need of a major overhaul. Coaches, board members and even some positions need to be changed or addressed. Yet, with the ban, it looks like the Catalans will be stuck to handle things on their own.
For the last few years, people have begun to say that we are witnessing the end of an era for FC Barcelona. As long as Lionel Messi and company are at the club, nothing is impossible, yet this could possibly be the end of an era and the dawning of a new one—a more difficult one.
Barcelona are still locked in a battle for the La Liga title, which they could definitely win, as well as for the Copa del Rey. There is a silver lining in their dark cloud, but if this result tells us anything, it is that the Catalans may be in for a difficult few years ahead.
What do you make of Barcelona's loss to Atletico Madrid? Are the Catalans in for a difficult few years ahead? Will they remain one of the best in Europe? Leave your thoughts and comments below!