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Champions League draw provides Barcelona pair of opportunities to prove they’re still Spain’s best

Mar 21, 2014, 3:47 PM EDT

BarcelonaAtletico AP

Barcelona are running out of time.

Sitting third in the La Liga table behind both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, fleeting questions are starting to become serious concerns.

And while the Catalans managed to skirt Spanish league leaders Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey – allowing Real Madrid to lay waste to fellow Madrid occupants 5-0 instead – Barcelona now have a job to do.

Fans should be happy they pulled a fellow La Liga club.  In drawing Atletico Madrid, Barca now have a pair of opportunities outside league play to make a statement against their league foes – “we’re not done yet.”

With memories of last year’s meek Champions League exit still yet to be extinguished, Barcelona are in desperate need of a statement win against top Spanish competition.

They picked up  a quality 2-1 El Clasico win over Real Madrid in October, but otherwise the last 12 months have done nothing but knock the seemingly immortal club back to Earth.

Now, Barcelona have both the Champions League draw with Atletico plus the Copa del Rey finals against Real Madrid on April 12 to prove they haven’t been trumped in the country they’ve had a vicegrip on for the last decade.

Not only would a Champions League exit to Atletico be painful, but simply the failure of the Catalans to make it out of the quarterfinals would mark a setback for the club.  It would mark the first time since 2006/07 that Barcelona would not be featured in the competition’s semifinals, and just the third time since 2004/05.

Barcelona are still without question one of the best clubs in the world, with gobs of talent oozing out of the squad. But if they can’t lay claim to the top spot of any competition within their own country, this season would without question be considered a major step back.

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