In a season which has seen English clubs dominate Europe, Liverpool will face off against Tottenham in Madrid as the pair battle it out to see who will be Europe's elite club. The Reds are likely to be favourites for the tie, but for Barcelona, there will be great disappointment as fans and club alike are left wondering if this year should've been their year.
A thrilling second-leg at Anfield saw Liverpool knock the Spanish giants out at the semi-final stage despite losing the first-leg at the Nou Camp 3-0, and while their elimination was deserved, Barcelona will rue this year's Champions League as a missed opportunity.
Rivals Real Madrid were knocked out early on in the competition as they fell at the hands of an impressive, youthful Ajax side and Bayern Munich too were eliminated at the round-of-16 stage after they were sent crashing out by Liverpool. With Barcelona cruising past Lyon and Manchester United, as well as comfortably beating Jurgen Klopp’s side at home, avoiding a capitulation at Anfield would've seen Barcelona advance to the final where they would've fancied their chances against a Spurs side that hasn't got Champions League final experience.
Instead, their humiliating loss in the second leg saw them crashing out of the Champions League and they now face managerial turmoil after a relatively uninspiring campaign. To add salt to the wounds, Liverpool were missing key men for the second leg with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino both out of the clash. It should've been a relatively straight forward tie at Anfield but Ernesto Valverde's side crumbled.
However, more importantly for the Catalan side, this was a chance for them to stamp their authority back on the European scene. With the previous three Champions League trophies being won by rivals Madrid, this year was a chance for Barcelona to show themselves to be a force in Europe again. It was an opportunity for them to capitalise on the early exits of their rivals. Despite their European dominance in the last decade, seeing them win three Champions Leagues, Barcelona are now under fire from the media and fans who are now starting to question if the Blaugrana’s years of being the elite club in Europe are over. With a kind run-in up until the semi-final, Barcelona had the perfect chance to prove the critics wrong but they failed when it mattered again.
It could be argued that Spanish clubs are being left behind by the free-spending English clubs and if the Catalan giants are to compete and win in Europe again they must adapt to the way modern football is going. A change in approach will be needed as Barcelona are running the risk of being left behind in Europe. The recent spark in the English game has seen Spurs, Manchester City and Liverpool rise to the top and as it stands, Barcelona aren't posing them a challenge. This year was no doubt a big opportunity for Barcelona to win the Champions League, but eyes must turn to next season as they look forced to try and splash the cash in order to become a European force again.