Barcelona are fighting on three fronts this season, and there’s still a chance they could complete the treble.
They’re currently five points clear at the top of La Liga with 18 games to play and host Sevilla in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-final on Wednesday night.
Of course, it would be considered a success to do the domestic double – but much of Barca’s concentration is on the Champions League.
For the last three seasons their bitter rivals, Real Madrid, have been crowned as the kings of Europe.
In fact, in those same seasons, the Blaugrana have failed to get past the quarter-finals – which can certainly be considered a disappointment given their dominance in the decade before.
But this season, there’s a different feeling around the club.
RECLAIMING THEIR CROWN
Madrid have really been struggling this term and there’s a real chance for Barca to take back their crown – both in Spain and in the Champions League too.
To do so though, Ernesto Valverde’s side will have to hit top form at the perfect time, especially when the competition gets tough in the latter knockout stages of Europe’s elite competition.
And to specifically ensure that Barca’s main man Lionel Messi does just that, the boss has a plan.
According to Marca, Valverde will be using the forward in ‘small doses’ so he arrives in form at the decisive moment.
TAKING A REST
That means fans will have to get used to seeing less of Messi in some matches – and this plan was in action last Sunday, when the Argentine came off the bench in a 3-1 win against Leganes.
In fact, Messi hasn’t even been named in Barca’s squad to face Sevilla in the first leg of the Copa del Rey.
It’s certainly an interesting move by Valverde, who risks his plan backfiring if his side underperforms without the magic of Messi.
But, if it works and he brings the Champions League back to the Nou Camp in June, then he’ll be hailed as a tactical genius.