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Barcelona Facing First Non-Title Season Since 2008

VALENCIA, SPAIN - APRIL 16:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on after Barcelona lost to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey Final at Estadio Mestalla on April 16, 2014 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Bleacher Report MilestonesB/R StaffApril 18, 2014

In wake of Wednesday's 2-1 El Clasico loss to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final, Barcelona will now need to win La Liga in order to avoid their first season without a title since 2008, per ESPN Stats & Info.

The Catalans bowed out during the Champions League quarterfinals last week, when Spanish opponents Atletico Madrid secured a tightly-contested second-leg victory that allowed them to advance following a draw in the first meeting. The result marked the first time Barcelona failed to make the competition's semifinals in seven years. 

On the heels of that devastating blow, manager Gerardo Martino's side was presented with a golden opportunity to redeem themselves by beating hated rivals Real Madrid to win the Copa del Rey.

However, despite dominating 68 percent of possession, Barcelona only mustered 12 total shots, which paled in comparison to Real's 18 attempts on just 32 percent possession, according to WhoScored.com.

Nevertheless, the match was tied 1-1 after 68 minutes and looked to be heading into extra-time.

That is, until Los Blancos' record-signee Gareth Bale went on a lung-busting run from midfield, miraculously breezing by Barcelona defender Marc Bartra before nutmegging goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto to clinch the title in the 85th minute.

Now, last season's La Liga Champions must make a late-season push to prevent a title-less campaign.

Such a feat might be easier said than done, since Barcelona currently occupy third position in Spain's top-flight on 78 points.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid lead the league with 82 points, while their capital neighbors Real Madrid sit three points behind with five games to play.

Fortunately, Barcelona is scheduled to host Atletico on La Liga's final day, so they hold a decent chance of hoisting the title. However, per ESPN FC, star winger Neymar is expected to miss the next four weeks due to a foot injury, meaning others will need to step up for the Catalan outfit.

Otherwise, Barcelona will endure their first season without a title since 2008, and with a year-long transfer ban looming this summer, the Catalan giants could be stuck with the same squad next season.

 

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