After suffering two defeats against arch-rivals Real Madrid twice in the space of a week, many pundits have questioned if Barcelona's period of dominance is set to end.

It is obvious that their performances of late have not been up to the high standards expected of the team, but there are circumstances to take into account. 

Firstly, their manager Tito Vilanova has been fighting cancer in recent months and consequently had to take time off from his managerial duties. 

This is likely to affect players, even those of Barcelona’s calibre, as it would affect the dressing room atmosphere. Hence their performances on the pitch have sometimes been disappointing of late, such as their modest 2-0 win over La Liga's bottom-side Deportivo La Coruna earlier this month.

In addition to this, key players such as Xavi and Carles Puyol are not getting any younger at 33 and 34, respectively. These two great players have been the spine of the team for many years but age does play a factor in players' performances, especially after the amount of games these two  have played in over the years. The body will be affected and hence performances begin to drop and affect the team overall. This is partly why, in recent weeks, Barcelona have been on the search for a replacement for Puyol, with Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany linked as an ideal replacement

Consequently, Barcelona fans do not need to panic just yet. Due to their financial situation they have the ability to replace these legends as they enter the twilight of their careers. However, it would have to be said that attempting to replace Xavi will be no mean feat and this could cause their style of play to be slightly adapted. The diminutive figure is the key playmaker in the current crop of players and his skill-set is unique and therefore difficult - if not impossible - to replace. 

Even with these two main problems, Barcelona would still be regarded as one of the best clubs in the world. They have an unassailable lead of 13 points in La Liga which, apart from being a minor miracle, will ensure they have won the league again for the fourth time in the last five years. 

They have also managed to secure a place in the Champions League quarter-finals, after a dramatic comeback against AC Milan in which they overturned a two goal deficit, coupled with the comfortable 3-1 win at the weekend against Rayo Vallecano. 

This shows that their dominance really doesn’t show any sign of diminishing and the run of poor form was probably just a blip. 

Overall, having players such as Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta will undoubtedly guarantee that they will be there or there abouts at the end of every season in every competition they enter.  

 

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