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Over the weekend, Barcelona secured the Spanish league title with an emphatic 3-0 win over Granada. This was Barça’s 24th La Liga title and its fifth since the 2009/10 season. They also claimed a third Club World Cup crown. On top of those accolades, the Catalan club also finds themselves in the Copa del Rey final with a chance to repeat as champions in the domestic cup. For almost any other club, a domestic double would be considered an incredible season and most fans would be thrilled with just a single piece of silverware.

Barcelona isn’t one of those clubs, however. In recent history, La Blaugrana have established themselves as arguably the best club team in the world. Last season, this dominance saw them beat out Real Madrid for a league title, Athletic Bilbao for the Copa del Rey and Juventus for a fifth Champions League title. This European treble had only been achieved by seven clubs (including Barça) and was the second treble in club history. Coming off of this historic campaign, fans began to expect this type of success on a regular basis.

When domestic rival Atlético Madrid ousted Barça in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, some began to discuss whether or not this season would be considered a failure at the club. I’m just going to repeat that really quick. A club that has won the league and is on the brink of winning a cup title may still be considered a failure by people in the media.

At first glance, that statement seems ridiculous. As a Manchester United fan, I would just be happy with a top four finish at this point and a league title would bring me to tears, so Barcelona’s success this season has made me very jealous this year. But, when you take a closer look at the roster that Luis Enrique had at his disposal and the competition that the club faced on a regular basis, you do have to wonder whether or not they underachieved this season.

Leading the line for Barça was the best front three in the world: Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, and Neymar. Having any one of those players on your squad already gives you an invaluable advantage, but to have all three is almost unfair. Combined, these three superstars scored 133 goals through all competitions, and assisted another 63. Even with Messi missing nine games through injury, the Ballon d’Or winner bagged 41 goals (26 in the league).

The chemistry that the MSN partnership has developed over the last two seasons is a big reason that fans expect so much from their club. When you go back and see how impressive their goal tally was for the season, you have to wonder what happened against Atlético on the big stage. Through two legs, MSN and co. were held to just two goals and were kept off the score sheet in the second leg. You have to think that if they were able to play at their usual level, Barça would have at least made it through to the semifinals and maybe even the final at the San Siro.

Taking a look at the scheduling and competition that Barça came up against this year, you can argue (and I already had earlier in the season) that the players could have been overused due to the sheer number of games on the calendar. On the other side of that argument, how difficult of teams were they coming up against on a regular basis. Sure, you have the big Spanish clubs like Real Madrid, Atlético and even Valencia, but other than that, they’re playing teams whose payroll is a fraction of Barça’s

For a club that prides themselves on the strength of their academy system, all of these extra matches should have given them the chance to rest the stars by using academy graduates. Over the entire season, only three players under the age of 24 made more than five first team appearances. Munir and Sandro Ramírez are both potential attacking reinforcements and Munir was the only one that managed to score a league goal this year.

At the end of all of this, the fact still stands that this season ends with Barcelona claiming three pieces of silverware. As much as some Barça fans would have loved to take home a consecutive Champions League title, no team since AC Milan between 1989-90 has been able to repeat as European champions. Barcelona has a ridiculous level of talent on their squad list, but fans need to have a realistic level of expectations each season. Look for them to have yet another ridiculously successful campaign next season, as well.


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