Barcelona might have a better chance to win Champions League than La Liga
Barcelona might have a better chance to win Champions League than La Liga : It might sound counterintuitive, but Barcelona could very well find that winning the Champions League is a more realistic goal than claiming the La Liga title. While the ambition is to win every competition, Barcelona’s squad is tailor made to capitalize on the scheduling that European competition has to offer. And it looks like Blaugranas manager Luis Enrique is already prioritizing the Champions League over domestic success.
Take this past weekend’s league loss for Barcelona and Tuesday’s 7-0 dismantling of Celtic into account, and you can see there are two very different Barcelona teams. Not just in terms of results, but players and approach. The Champions League took priority, and that could change the way both the European and Spanish championships play out.
Enrique fielded what amounted to a B-side team against lowly Alaves on Saturday, and Barcelona paid the price for it. With the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Samuel Umtiti all sitting out, newly promoted Alaves managed to secure a historic win against the defending champions. Yes, Barcelona still have a bevy of talent even without the aforementioned usual starters on the pitch (hello, Neymar!), but the decision to rest stars just three weeks into the La Liga season can’t be overlooked.
Barcelona made strides to strengthen the squad and add depth with their summer signings at the transfer window. New additions Denis Suarez and Paco Alcacer made the starting XI alongside Arda Turan against Alaves, but all three were pulled around the hour mark for Enrique’s preferred attacking triumvirate of Messi, Suarez and Iniesta. The changes proved ineffective as not only would Barcelona fail to win, Alaves would score to break a 1-1 deadlock and leave the dazed Camp Nou with a memorable three points.
It’s far too early to say Barcelona should outright give up on La Liga (they laid an egg in matchday 5 last season and still won the competition), but Enrique should be circumspect about falling victims to last year’s Champions League pitfalls again. The majority of mighty Barcelona’s blemishes last season came when midweek Champions League matches congested the busy schedule. Their first two losses of the 2015/16 season came in the midst of the Champions League group stage. Then, three consecutive December draws — two in La Liga, one in the Champions League — signaled the first signs that perhaps Barcelona weren’t as invincible as everyone thought. The trend only continued as the season wore on, where Barca lost three league matches and a decisive second-leg Champions League quarterfinal against Atletico in roughly a two-week span in April.
After their disappointing exit from the Champions League, Barcelona focused their attention and edged Real Madrid by one point for the La Liga title and also claimed the Copa del Rey. It was far from a lost season, even by Barcelona’s lofty standards, but a disappointment for a club that fancies themselves as perennial Champions League final contestants. In order to make that a reality, Barcelona’s approach needed changing.
In an ideal world, the summer reinforcements would give Enrique the flexibility to rest his stars while still mounting a La Liga charge. Given the failure against Alaves, it remains to be seen if Enrique sticks with that approach in the league. If he does continue rotating and keeping his players fresh, Barcelona will surely find the Champions League more fruitful. It’s a small sample size, but just look at what a rested full-strength Barca side did to Celtic on Tuesday. Even in the group stage, rolling up a 7-0 victory is an explosive show of force.
The competition will only get more difficult as the Champions League progresses, but fielding an invigorated squad each European matchday should pay dividends for Enrique. With Neymar, Messi, Suarez, Iniesta et. al firing on all cylinders, Europe could be a feasting ground for Barcelona, even if they’re facing the cream of the crop in the Champions League. If de-emphasizing La Liga is the cost of doing that business, it might well be worth it.
Source : http://www.foxsports.com/soccer/story/barcelona-might-have-a-better-chance-to-win-champions-league-than-la-liga-091416