FC Barcelona Still On Course For Treble

FC Barcelona remain on course for a unique treble this season, a quest that would be greatly enhanced with victory in the Catalan derby — against neighbors Espanyol — on Saturday.

Barcelona hold a narrow two point lead over arch rivals Real Madrid as La Liga enters its final stages, and victory in the derby would be a major hurdle crossed towards the title. After scaling through a difficult game with Valencia last weekend — Lionel Messi grabbed his 400th goal for FC Barcelona in a 2-0 win — Espanyol will be one of the last major obstacles between FC Barcelona and the league crown.

Lionel Messi celebrates another goal for FC Barcelona. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images Sports
Lionel Messi celebrates another goal for FC Barcelona. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images Sports)

Just one match separates FC Barcelona from triumph in the Spanish Cup though. They already booked their place in that final, scheduled for their home ground, on May 30, when they face Athletic Bilbao. FC Barcelona would be looking to win the Copa del Rey for a record 27th time

Before all that though, FC Barcelona will be in the hat when the draw for the semi-final round of the UEFA Champions League holds in Nyon, Switzerland, on Friday. They made sure of that with a convincing 2-0 win over French champions Paris St Germain at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night.

Also in that hat will be German giants Bayern Munich, Italian champions Juventus, and La Liga opponents Real Madrid, any of whom would give FC Barcelona a tough obstacle in their bid to reach the final for the first time since 2011.

A clash with Bayern would be most intriguing, given that the Bavarian club are led by former FC Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, also a former Barcelona player, who led the club to two Champions League titles — 2009 and 2012 — during a highly successful five-year tenure that ended in 2013.

Were FC Barcelona to draw Real Madrid though, it would bring back memories of 2012, when the two clubs, as now, were battling it out for the league title and faced each other over two contentious legs of a semi-final tie eventually won by FC Barcelona. There would be no Guardiola vs. Jose Mourinho sideshow this time though, but with Messi still at Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid, the prospects of a Barcelona vs. Real Madrid Clasico Champions League semi-final is no less exciting.

Juventus are probably — in theory — the lesser of three evils, as far as FC Barcelona are considered. But that’s not to say the Turin club would be a pushover for anyone. Having won the last three Serie A championships, Juve make their first semi-final appearance since 2003, but they boast an accomplished squad, headlined by the Argentine striker Carlos Tevez, French midfielder Paul Pogba, Chilean Arturo Vidal, and the experienced Gigi Buffon in goal.

Whichever draw they get, FC Barcelona will face the greatest obstacle to their treble pursuit in the Champions League, although FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique knows he cannot take anything for granted.

“La Liga is still difficult,” As he told ESPN. “We have opponents still fighting for it. In the Champions there will be three teams with the same chances as us. In the Copa del Rey, the other finalist is Athletic, who always cause us problems. So there is still work to do.”

(Image by David Ramos/Getty Image Sports)