By William Poole, Photo credit: Natursports / Shutterstock.com
Amidst the upheaval in the football world during 2015, with the FIFA corruption scandal, threats of a truncated La Liga season, and the resignation of Sepp Blatter, the dominating performance of Barcelona F.C. was a quiet constant. The Catalan club marched through the 2014-15 campaign to claim the Continental Treble, becoming the first European side to conquer the feat twice.
In the end, the La Liga season was not cut short and the Catalan’s narrowly won their 23rd league title over their rivals, Real Madrid. Barça followed a week later with a victory over Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final, notching the club’s 27th domestic cup. Next, in their June 6th trip to Berlin they dismantled Italian champions Juventus in the Champion’s League Final. As winners of the most difficult domestic league and their domestic cup and UEFA Champions, Barcelona enshrined themselves as the top club in world football.
The squad was led in 2015 by a triplet of world class attacking players in Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr. and Luis Suarez. Their 122 goals over the season contributed to Barcelona’s dominant form, as evidenced by the teams +139 goal differential. Messi, Neymar, and Suarez terrorized opposing defenses last season but can the Blaugrana carry their form into 2016?
There will be changes in the club and no doubt their European rivals will be gunning to improve through offseason acquisitions. Camp Nou legend Xavi Hernandez will certainly not be with the club next year and the future of manager Luis Enrique remains uncertain. In addition, teams like Real Madrid have already begun to reload.
Top football clubs change more between seasons than teams in any other sport. Consistency is achieved by what does not change. Barcelona has the special talent and enduring style of play to move forward unscathed. They probe defenses with their patented tiki-taka style, controlling possession and seeking to unlock their opposition with an elusive through ball. That style will not change and neither will the players on the end of the final passes. Led by their mighty South American trident, Barcelona retains a team that makes them early favorites to repeat as UEFA Champions.
The UEFA Champions League is not all at stake for the team next year. Further history can be made and silverware earned by this team. In December, they will contest the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. Also, this coming August, Barça plays Sevilla for the right to the 2015 UEFA Super. They have a chance at an unprecedented sweep of all the major trophies if they can maintain their championship form.
Individually, Lionel Messi has solidified himself as an early favorite for the 2015 Ballon d’Or. The highest individual honor that FIFA bestows has been dominated by Ronaldo recently, but Messi has nosed ahead in 2015. The Champions League triumph capped a treble run that leaves the Argentine in a position to claim his fifth Ballon d’Or, just as it did in 2009 when Barca won the treble.
The Catalan club boasts a lethal attack, remains in excellent form, and was consistent throughout 2014-15. Last season was historic and at the least, ensures that each of their star attackers can hoist a trophy on his prong of the trident. Moving forward, Barcelona has the style and ability to continue to dominate world football, even with offseason changes