10 Reasons Why Real Madrid Will/Won't Overtake Barcelona as Europe's Best Team
FC Barcelona have been the dominant team in Europe for the past three seasons, collecting two continental doubles (league plus Champions League) in that time spam and establishing themselves as the world's greatest team.
Pep Guardiola and his team will try to extend this reign of domination for at least a few more years, but their eternal rivals Real Madrid won't just stand there watching.
José Mourinho's side is clearly the second best in the world right now, but being second best is not what a club like Real Madrid aspires to, especially not when the best is FC Barcelona.
Real Madrid fans will be confident that their team can finally overtake Barcelona and put an end to the Catalan's dominance.
This article presents five reasons why they can overtake Barcelona and five reasons why they can't.
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Why They Will
First, let's look at why Real Madrid will overtake FC Barcelona
1. Barcelona Can't Stay on Top Forever
This is an unwritten rule of football, and most sports for that matter. No one can dominate forever.
Every great cycle must come to an end, and Barcelona's is no exception. The Catalans had a golden three years, possibly the most dominant three year run in the sport's history, but it just can't last forever.
Players age/lose motivation, other teams evolve and find better tactics. No team can be the best every single year.
Barcelona have won the last three editions of the Spanish league in utterly dominant fashion, but Real Madrid will fancy their chances, they know that Barcelona are bound to slip up at some point, every good thing comes to an end.
2. Real Madrid Have a Squad Stacked With World Class Talent in All Areas
If there's a club who have legitimate ambitions of dethroning Barcelona, it's definitely Real Madrid. Their squad is nothing short of sensational.
If this once-in-a-generation Barcelona side were not around, people would probably be raving about "Mourinho's Madrid" instead of saving all their praise for this exceptional FC Barcelona crop.
The fact that former Ballon d'Or winner Kaka and one of Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema aren't good enough to start for Madrid tells you all you need to know about the squad's quality.
They have at least two top quality options for each position, and the core players are all very young. Even Cristiano Ronado is only 26.
The likes of Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso, Mezut Ozil, Di Maria, Higuain, Benzema are all among the very best players in the world at their respective positions, while Cristiano Ronaldo is certainly one of the world's best players, guaranteeing at least 35 to 40 goals per season.
If Barcelona weren't around, Real Madrid would definitely be hot favorites to win the Treble this season
3. José Mourinho's Track Record
If Barcelona manage to rack up close to 100 points again, he'll certainly not win the league with Real, but if Barcelona become just a bit less consistent, Mourinho will definitely fancy his chances.
The fact that José Mourinho has won leagues and Champions Leagues with squads that were nowhere near as talented as the current Madrid side should make Madridistas very optimistic for the future.
4. They Will Be Hungrier Than Barcelona
Barcelona's Spanish players have won everything there is to win in world football, and Lionel Messi has racked up every possible individual accolade.
While the squad seems to remain hungry, Real Madrid will be a lot hungrier. Their squad is younger and have a lot more to prove. After spending in excess of €500 million, one Copa del Rey isn't even close to being an acceptable trophy tally for one of the greatest clubs in football history.
There's no doubt that Real Madrid will be extremely hungry for silverware, which might just help them overcome the Catalan obstacle.
5. Lack of Any Other Genuine Opposition to the Catalans
As mentioned before, Barcelona can't dominate forever, which makes it almost certain that Real Madrid will win some major trophies soon.
Other than Barcelona, there's no other team in Spain or in Europe who even comes close to the current Real Madrid squad in terms of overall talent and squad strength.
As soon as FC Barcelona slip up, Real Madrid become automatic (almost) La Liga champions and the front-runners for the Champions League title. In a Barcelona-less world, the Merengues are by far the world's best team.
However, this might well serve as extra motivation for Barcelona. They know that if they become complacent, their eternal rivals will become Europe's dominant team.
Why They Won't
Now, let's look at why Real Madrid won't overtake FC Barcelona
1. Barcelona Have the World's Greatest Player, Just Entering His Prime Years
One thing that sets this FC Barcelona crop apart is that they have this generation's greatest player among their ranks: Lionel Messi.
The scary part is that Messi is only 24. A footballer usually has his prime years at 25 to 28, which means, as hard as it is to believe, Leo Messi will probably become even better in the coming years.
La Pulga has been tomenting José Mourinho ever since he, while still a teenager (18), completely destroyed Chelsea's defense (and got Del Horno sent off) in a 2006 Champions League match.
Five years later and the Portuguese manager hasn't yet found a way to contain the Argentine genius, and it's unlikely that he ever will. Messi has also been tormenting Real Madrid since his teenage years, having scored 10 goals against Iker Casillas.
Having a player like Lionel Messi in their ranks to unlock tight matches (ex: the first leg at the Bernabeu in last year's Champions League) is a distinct advantage Barcelona have over Real Madrid, and it's not one Real Madrid can solve by splashing money around, since there's no other player in the market who's even remotely close to Messi.
2. Xavi and Iniesta's Midfield Duo
Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Andrés Iniesta have been the three players giving an edge to Barcelona over their eternal rivals over the past few years. While FC Barcelona are full of world class players, these three are a class apart.
Again, this is something Real Madrid can't really do much about. Regardless of how much money they might spend, they will not get players of similar quality because there are none.
The Xavi-Iniesta duo has been sweeping all before them in the past few years. While Messi has only found success with Barcelona, Xavi and Iniesta have also led Spain to the Euro and World Cup titles.
With the two maestros in midfield, Barcelona are virtually guaranteed full midfield domination against every opponent, which goes a long way towards winning matches and competitions.
If these three players remain fit and focused, it will be very, very hard for Real Madrid to dethrone Barcelona.
3. Pep Guardiola's Relentless Trophy-Winning Pace
In three years as a professional manager, Pep Guardiola has won 10 trophies (and counting) out of 13. He's pretty much a trophy-collecting machine.
He's a winner, and he drills that winning mentality into his players. With Pep Guardiola around, it becomes difficult to imagine Barcelona not winning.
The three competitions Barcelona lost under Pep were all by a single goal margin and in somewhat unlucky circumstances (plenty of missed chances against Sevilla, Bojan's disallowed goal against Inter and Pedro's disallowed goal against Real Madrid).
With Pep around, Barcelona seem very likely to remain on top.
4. Barcelona's Unparalleled Chemistry
Not only does Barcelona have world class players in every position, their chemistry is second to none. Out of Barcelona's vintage XI, eight players come from La Masia, meaning that they've been playing the Barcelona game since their youth years.
The rest of the players have been around long enough to be fully settled to the club's style. The players can anticipate each other's moves and always offer good passing options to their teammates.
In terms of overall talent, Real Madrid can certainly compete with Barcelona (Xavi, Messi and Iniesta apart, they arguably have better players), but Barcelona's chemistry is what sets them apart.
It's what made Pep's team so successful, and it's what makes this Barcelona side one of the greatest teams of all time.
Dethroning them will be one hell of a task.
5. They Need Barcelona to Slip Up
The truth is that, in order to overtake Barcelona, Real Madrid will need the Catalans to fail to meet the standards they set in the past three seasons.
In the past two seasons, Real Madrid have had the two best seasons in their history as far as league points are concerned. In any other era (or any other league), racking up 96 and 92 league points would allow them to run away with the league easily.
Real Madrid were insanely good. The problem is that Barcelona were even better.
There is not that much room for improvement at Madrid. They're already an unbelievably consistent side, but if Barcelona continue to rack up close to 100 league points, they won't be able to dominate Spain, let alone Europe.
As mentioned in the beginning, Barcelona can't keep this up forever, but at least for now there are no signs of slowing down. The additions of Alexis Sanchez and maybe Cesc Fabregas will make Barcelona an even stronger outfit, especially deeper than last season, making them favorites to win everything again.
But football is a very unpredictable sport, and nothing is set in stone. José Mourinho and Real Madrid will do their utmost to challenge Barcelona's domination and overtake them, which should make for a very exciting season in European football.
You can follow me on Twitter: @Manueltraquete