It was one of Johan Cruyff’s guiding principles. When big teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, or Atletico Madrid perform well, they always win because their quality is superior to that of their opponents. When they don’t play well, the problem arises. Those are the games you have to win no matter what, and there are a lot of them throughout the league season.
On Monday night, Barcelona had a game to forget, especially in the first half. They failed to defend well, failed to find space in attack, and repeatedly fired shots into Jordi Masip’s arms. In the second half, the team improved, but only in dribs and drabs. The game was becoming increasingly ugly until Oscar Plano was sent off. And Ousmane Dembele scored just before the end of the second half.
On a bad day, Barcelona got the three points. And that is extremely valuable. Nothing will have happened if Monday’s victory was merely a pause in the great run of 2021. Not every game can be won, but with a performance like that against Real Madrid, they will not only lose the game, but their chances of becoming champions will be jeopardized.
They are still reliant on themselves at the moment, which is a critical factor. There are no league championships without a healthy dose of misery. And then there’s luck. Barcelona had the necessary luck to be champions on Monday night as well.