Barcelona – Real Madrid: Is Their Dominance Coming To An End?

For the last two seasons Barcelona and Real Madrid have been clearly the best two teams in the world. The 2011 Champions League was effectively decided by their epic Semi Final clash which was won 3-1 on aggregate by Barcelona. Last season, most people expected the two teams to meet in a Super Clasico of a Champions League Final but both surprisingly stumbled at the semi final stage. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid will again be leading contenders for next season’s Champions League. However, both clubs face the same problem to maintaining their position of pre-eminence.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are clearly the two best teams in Spain. They are so dominant that La Liga has effectively been reduced to a two team competion. The best result that any other team in La Liga can hope to achieve is to finish third. A major reason for this dominance is the imbalance in the split of televsion revenues. At the moment, there is an even three-way split – a third for Barcelona, a third for Real Madrid and a third to be divided by the rest. Naturally, the other clubs are not happy with such an arrangement and have been trying to change it.

Barcelona and Madrid have resisted such change arguing that they generate the majority of the total revenue and that they need the revenue to be competitive in Europe. The problem they face is that the uncompetive nature of La Liga will eventually reduce the value of the total product. Consequently, Barcelona and Madrid’s television revenue will then probably be diminished anyway. This is very serious for both clubs as they have huge debts which need large revenues to service.

It is difficult to see any La Liga result other than a Barcelona / Real Madrid  quinella ever again. The only possible exception is if Malaga’s new found wealth enables them to challenge the Big Two. However, on the European front it is a completely different story.

Competition for the Champions League is likely to become increasingly difficult. English clubs will all benefit from an improved television deal for the English Premier League. While the big English clubs share the wealth far more equitably with the smaller clubs, the total amount of revenue is much higher for the EPL rights than for La Liga. Barcelona and Madrid’s dominance in Spain may well prove to be counter-productive in the long run.

The biggest problem facing Spain’s Big Two is the number of clubs who now have extremely wealthy owners who are prepared to spend whatever it takes to achieve on-field success. The biggest player in this regard is Manchester City. Since being bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group nearly four years ago they have gone from a lower mid-table struggler to Champions of the EPL.

There is no club in the world that can compete with Manchester City financially. For them, no transfer fee is too high for a player they wish to sign. Similarly, they are prepared to meet even the most ridiculous of wage demands. Having won the FA Cup and EPL championship in the last two seasons, Manchester City are now looking to further stengthen their team for a tilt at next season’s Champions League. They will be major contenders for that trophy next season  and in the upcoming years.  They are a huge threat to Barcelona’s ambitions for more Champions League titles.

Another club with a very wealthy owner is Chelsea. Since Roman Abramovich bought the club, he has spent heavily to achieve plenty of on-field success. It would appear that their recent extremely fortunate success in the Champions League has rekindled Abramovich’s enthusiasm. Chelsea appear ready to embark on another buying spree to replenish what has become an aging squad. It is also likely that Pep Guardiola will be a coaching target once Pep is ready to coach again. Whether Pep will agree to coach Chelsea is very uncertain, but there is an additional danger for Barcelona if he does.

I have read one report which indicates that Chelsea would pay whatever it takes (up to 250 million euros) to sign Lionel Messi. Given that Barcelona still have large debts and may have an option to buy Neymar for 40 million euros such a prospect is not completely impossible. The plan would be that Neymar could replace Messi as a player and the difference in transfer fees could substantially reduce Barcelona’s debt. I think that selling Messi would be disastrous both in football and commercial terms given the importance of the little man to both the team and the Barcelona brand. The fact that it might even considered a possibility shows how challenging the future could be for Barcelona.

Paris St Germain (PSG) is another club with extremely wealthy owners.  The fact that were prepared to pay the 40-50 million euros that Milan want for Thiago Silva shows that they wish to be serious players on the European stage. Their action made it impossible for Barcelona to continue their pursuit of the Brazilian defender. Such a scenario may well be often repeated in the future as transfer fees for top players have reached ludicrous levels. Barcelona will simply not be able to complete financially with those clubs with extremely wealthy owners who are prepared to spend whatever it takes to win titles.

Fortunately, there is a solution for Barcelona, one that has always served them well: La Masia will continue to produce quality players that should enable Barcelona to remain competitive at the highest level. I have come to the conclusion that the only player we should buy for next season is Jordi Alba as we do need a starting left back. David Villa’s return from injury effectively gives us a new striker. Hopefully, Gerard Pique can regain fitness, form and focus effectively giving us the new central defender we need.  La Masia graduates such as Marc Bartra, Marc Muniesa and Martin Montoya should be given their chance to contibute. They all have talent and simply need the guidance of the experienced players.

I have read with alarm that Christian Tello and Thiago Alcantara may well be sold with Liverpool and Manchested United respectively mentioned as possible destinations. Losing either of these two players would potentially be as bad for Barcelona as was losing Cesc Fabregas nearly a decade ago.

One other thing that Barcelona must have is stability. I read with great concern that former president Joan Laporta, who has a bitter rivalry with current president Sandro Rosell, is considering running for president again at Barcelona’s next election. Both Rosell and Laporta have strengths and weaknesses. I know it is a pipe-dream but I would like to see them working together for the good of Barcelona. The last thing that we need is a divisive civil war between these two.

While the future for Barcelona will be very challenging, we aleady have the solution – La Masia. The club must continue to improve its financial position as maintain a quality team is a very expensive exercise. 

Have Your Say 

What did you think of this article?

Do you think teams like Malaga, Atletico Madrid, Valencia or Sevilla can challenge Barcelona or Real Madrid ever again?

Did I miss out on any important points you would like to share with us?

I welcome and appreciate all respectful feedback.

Força Barça!!

Posted by: Drago , Columnist at ‘Culé Talk’