With the La Liga already won, Barcelona’s new target was perhaps to get to the coveted 100-point mark, which was achieved by Real Madrid, last season. While Real Madrid went trophyless this season, Barcelona are looking confident to touch the milestone with Espanyol (away) and Malaga (home) to come, both formidable oppositions.
Real Madrid on the other hand lost their last hope for a trophy this season and the neo-Galactico project perhaps met a tragic end. Mourinho’s 3-year stay in Spain accounts for €163.5 million and 3 trophies – Copa Del Rey, La Liga, Spanish Super Cup. Although much of the heavy-duty transfers were prior to Jose Mourinho’s arrival, he was perhaps the face of the new project at Madrid, started by Perez. Unfortunately, the project failed miserably and Mourinho might just move back to England to his beloved Chelsea after Perez announced his dismissal.
While the top two have their own problems to settle, Atletico Madrid won their own ‘La Decima’ – their 10th Copa del Rey. While Real took the lead, Simeone’s men came from behind to grab the cup. Naturally, after a crunching mid-week encounter, these two teams did not play in the weekend.
Valencia and Sociedad, interestingly won their games to keep the race for the 4th spot alive. While Valencia defeated Getafe, courtesy a goal from Jeremy Mathieu. Sociedad were benefited from an own-goal by Ivan Rakitic, which cancelled out his previous strike and a red card to Reyes. Imanol Agirretxe eventually scored the winner for Sociedad. Had it not been for Griezmann’s squandered chances, Sociedad could have had an easier outing. Despite a strong start by Sociedad, Sevilla drew first blood thanks to an intelligent assist from Real Madrid target, Geoffrey Kondogbia, to Rakitic who slotted in coolly. Rakitic however, was the villain when his aerial attempt to clear the ball landed in his own goal, thereby cancelling his previous effort. With the game not going either way, Carlos Martinez’s spectacular assist found Agirretxe, who got Sociedad the final goal of the match. This win keeps Socieded firmly in the hunt for the 4th spot.
Valencia played a rather uneventful match. Except for the goal from centre-back, Jeremy Mathieu and a few missed chances by either side, it was largely dull. But Valencia will be happy to have all 3 points.
Celta Vigo (31 points in 36 games), Mallorca (32 points in 36 games) and Zaragoza (34 points in 36 games) are amongst the teams that might face the axe next season with Deportivo (35 points in 36 games), Osasuna (36 points in 36 games) and to a certain extent Granada (39 points in 36 games), prospective candidates. Granada’s 3-0 win against Osasuna, put them in a relatively more comfortable space than the rest. Youssef El Arabi opened the scoring for Granada around the 23rd minute and they certainly were the better team, going into the break. Towards the end of the match, Fernando Nano fouled Yacine Brahimi inside the box and was promptly expelled. With a man down and a spot-kick awarded against them, Osasuna never looked like coming back. Guilherme Siqueira converted from the spot and ensured that the hosts were 5 points clear off the relegation zone. Diego Buonanotte later added one more to the total, as an icing on the cake. This win endured that Granada will more or less be in the top flight of Spanish football for one more season; they however, need 1 more point to be guaranteed a spot next season.
Despite all the matches and the crucial Champions League spots and the dreaded relegation zone, all the focus was however on the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ – Jose Mourinho. Real Madrid had sacrificed a lot to catch up with Barcelona. While the Portuguese might have thawed Barcelona’s hegemony to a certain extent, but during Mourinho tenure of 3 seasons, FC Barcelona have won 2 La Ligas, 1 Champions League, 1 Copa del Rey, 2 Supercopa de España, 1 UEFA Super Cup & 1 FIFA Club World Club – a total of 8 titles with an expenditure of €164.5 million. Juxtaposing Real Madrid, one can easily make out that with just €1 million less, Real have won just 3 – 1 La Liga, 1 Copa del Rey, 1 Supercopa de España. If one keenly observes Perez’s term as Real Madrid’s President, it’s quite noticeable that he has spent close to €860 million to acquire players and has won 10 trophies over the last 10 years. Although they may have recouped quite a large part from shirt sales of all the superstars, but in terms of success, it doesn’t commensurate. More importantly, they have won just the Champions League only once and the elusive ‘La Decima’ has evaded them, ever since.
Barcelona on the other hand have seen both – the troughs and the crests. They have always indulged in mindless transfers, but have seen more success in the new millennium. The two Spanish giants have made it their primary agenda to be the best team in Spain and in the process have lost their ground in Europe to their German counterparts. It’s time for Rosell and Perez to look at things from a different perspective and lessen the insane amount of money they spend each year. A startling piece of statistic would be that if one looks at the 50 most expensive signings in the last decade, 5 clubs account for as much as 58% of the spending – apart from Barcelona and Real Madrid, the other three are Manchester United, PSG & Chelsea. Barcelona deserves to be criticized more because they have one of the best academies in Europe – La Masia, yet they feature regularly in mindless transfers (read Dmytro Chygrinskiy, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, etc.). Real on the other hand, never regarded their academy in high esteem and players like Mata & Soldado and plying their trade at other clubs and doing reasonably well.
The time has come for Barcelona and Madrid to learn from the likes of Bayern Munich and their likes. To sustain a club at a high level, money is an essential tool, but how you spend it is also a part of the sustenance strategy. The sooner they learn this, the better it is.