It’s that time of the year, when everyone starts to make sense of what happened in the last 12 months. We sports fans start giving out our very own awards. Most decisions are complicated, requiring a lot of reflection and discussion – even arguments – with friends. At least there’s one very easy choice. Best soccer team on the planet? Barcelona, by far.
The soccer lesson the team gave Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu this past Saturday was only the icing on the cake of a wonderful year. This year, they lifted four trophies: La Liga, Copa del Rey, the UEFA Super Cup and, above all, the Champions League. Their only misstep was losing the Spanish Supercup against Athletic Bilbao. Wherever Barcelona has gone, it has conquered, with wins at big-name stadiums like the Etihad, Parc des Princes, Santiago Bernabéu, and Vicente Calderón. The only trophy left for the culés is the Club Word Cup, which will be played in Japan in mid-December.
And yes, they did beat Real Madrid in both Clásicos this year, including last Saturday’s humiliating game. If Spanish soccer is a two-team affair, it is extremely one-sided. In fact, Barça’s stars have been much more productive than the famous BBC of Real Madrid. While Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suárez have scored 117 goals in 2015, between Cristiano, Benzema, and Bale, the total is 65. That’s right, a 52-goal difference. Maybe the only chance for the merengues is backing the Catalonian independence movement, so they’ll no longer have to play against Barcelona.
Barcelona played above everyone else, even under a FIFA sanction that didn’t allow them to use any new players this calendar year. The sanction will be over in the winter, so things can only get better when Arda Turán and others join an already powerful squad. If we’re judging by the skills exhibited in the last few months, Barcelona has the best player in the world (Messi), but also the second best player in the world (Neymar), who’s playing like he’s a video game character, not an actual human.
Better savor the memories. It’s been a historic 2015 for Barcelona.