Real's success 'infuriating' for Barca

Real Madrid's Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in action during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid in Bilbao, Spain, on Sept 15, 2018.
Real Madrid's Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in action during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid in Bilbao, Spain, on Sept 15, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BARCELONA • Almost exactly an hour after the final whistle that signalled arch-rivals Real Madrid's third European Cup in a row and their 13th in total, Barcelona tweeted: "Congratulations to Real for winning the 2017-18 Champions League title".

The social media post after Real's 3-1 victory over Liverpool in the final in May incensed some Barca fans, who demanded its immediate deletion, while others claimed the tweet was a classy touch.

The silence from Barca's key players - Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez - was, however, deafening and from the words that have been spoken since, it is clear how much Real's triumph has hurt despite the club' gracious message.

"Obviously it's infuriating (for us)," Suarez said in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1 earlier this month. "Madrid have won the Champions League in the last three years. They have made history and it's a thorn in our side."

Real's success in Europe also stings because Barca feel they were better than Julen Lopetegui's men last season, finishing 17 points clear of them to win the LaLiga title.

It was the Champions League quarter-final defeat by Roma, and the manner of it, that was their moment of realisation that on the European front, things had to change.

Manager Ernesto Valverde was accused last season of over-exerting his players in the league and he has indicated that he will adapt ahead of their Group B opener at home to PSV Eindhoven today.

 
 

Sergio Busquets and Philippe Coutinho both started as substitutes in Saturday's 2-1 league win over Real Sociedad, while Messi may also need to be preserved if he is to add a fifth Champions League success to his collection.

Now captain, he appears hungrier than ever. "It's time to win the Champions League," the Argentinian star told Catalunya Radio earlier this month. "We've been knocked out in the quarter-finals three seasons in a row, and maybe the last one was the worst of all."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2018, with the headline 'Real's success 'infuriating' for Barca'. Print Edition | Subscribe