Barcelona v Real Madrid: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even Copa del Rey final victory will make season a success

Barcelona's success has been followed by failures in the transfer market among others

Barcelona have won 21 trophies so far this century. Number 22 could be lifted on Wednesday night at Mestalla when they meet Real Madrid in the Spanish Cup final.

But it says everything about the way complacency has taken them from the sublime, of the 2009-2011 period, to the ridiculous, of this year's catalogue of embarrassments, that the Copa del Rey will not be enough to save their season.

Susceptibility to the kick up the backside always peaks the moment you lean forward to receive the medal and Barcelona should have known that far from making them immune to criticism, success would put them more than ever in the line of fire - being everyone's favourite was always going to make them everyone's favourite target sooner or later.

But complacency has taken hold. They have gone from having three home-grown players on the Ballon d'Or podium in 2010 to having their Masia youth academy investigated for illegal signings of under-18s in 2014; and from receiving praise at having signed Neymar for only €57m to the revelation that because of numerous add-on contracts, the final price was closer to €100m.

Read more: Barcelona v Real Madrid match preview
Can Real Madrid cope without Ronaldo?

The Neymar deal maybe no murkier than countless other transfers involving a player with third-party ownership; and third-party ownership is not banned by Fifa. If it transpires that income taxes have been avoided by paying companies related to Neymar, rather than directly to the player himself, then it will not be first time such a tactic has been used either.

The club are also right to point out the contradiction inherent in rules that are supposed to guard against the abuse of children in football, being used to punish the club with one of the most exemplary youth academy systems in the world.

Barcelona say it makes no sense that a teenager can move to a different country to study but not be able to do so at a football club - with, as is the case at Barcelona's La Masia, a rounded education thrown in.

But complacency has again done for them. The simple relocation of a young players' parents under the pretence that there has been an unrelated change in their work situation has been enough to keep Fifa happy in the past.

Tonight Barcelona face Europe's most prolific forward line with an inexperienced 23-year-old defender Marc Bartra partnering Javier Mascherano in the centre of defence. Real Madrid will be without top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo but Barcelona will feel the absence of the injured Gerard Pique far more.

Ronaldo will be missing from the final Ronaldo will be missing from the final  

Nowhere has the complacency running through the club been more apparent than in the transfer market from which they are now banned. The failure to sign a single central defender since 2009 when Pep Guardiola brought in Dmytro Chygrynskiy has felt more and more ill-advised with every passing summer.

In subsequent seasons the club failed to move for Javi Martinez and Thiago Silva while saving up for Neymar. Between times Alex Song was signed and presented as someone who "could also play in the centre of defence" - news to everyone, Song included.

This year the failure to bring in a long-term replacement for Carles Puyol has hit them even harder with Pique's fractured pelvis keeping him out of Wednesday's final.

Xavi like Puyol has not been replaced with the in-house solution - 21-year-old Thiago Alcantara - inexplicably allowed to leave and join Bayern Munich.

The reaction to the meltdown of the last week - being knocked out of the Champions League and slipping out of the title race - has been as surreal as some of the behaviour that has caused it.

The local sports media keeps pumping out the message that the squad will be renewed at great expense at the end of the season displaying exactly the kind of 'Fifa does not exist' attitude that got the club in trouble in the first place.

And after the defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League attention focused on Lionel Messi's post-match stats with it pointed it that he had run only twice as far as goalkeeper Pinto during the game - supporters reduced to blaming a defeat on the fact that Messi wasn't running about enough.

He looked a little non-plussed in training on Tuesday as the team worked out with a rugby ball in their last session before travelling to Valenica - another surreal touch to an at times bizarre season.

After the weekend defeat to Granada passing statistics actually showed Barcelona had enjoyed 86 per cent of possession: a new high beating the previous benchmark of 84 per cent set under Guardiola.

No-one at the club now has their head so far in the sand that they see that as a sign nothing is wrong. And most believe, even if they win the Copa del Rey, it will change nothing. It will be their third win over Madrid this season - but it's not the treble they had in mind at the start of the season.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup