There was a time, not so long ago when the indomitable forces of Real Madrid and Barcelona would fail to be threatened by any side in Europe after taking such a healthy first-leg lead but if this week is anything to go by, that unbeatable far factor has disappeared opening-up this seasons Champions League.
Barcelona may have the La Liga title all but wrapped up this season but on Tuesday night against Roma, but a significant chink in the armour was exposed that teams such as Atletico, Valencia and Sevilla will look to expose next season as the Italians came back to knock Ernesto Valverde’s men out on the away goals rule despite a 4-1 first-leg advantage.
For Real, despite Ronaldo riding to the rescue once more to save Los Blancos blushes, it was a performance that had the rest of Europe with their hearts in their mouths especially when Matudi leveled the tie in the 60th minute as Juventus went 3-0 up at the Bernabeu.
Ronaldo not only saved his team but also his manager, with the Real hierarchy making it quite clear that winning the Champions League is the only acceptable outcome for Zinedine Zidane from a season that has seen the 33-time Spanish league winners trail their great rivals by an unacceptable 15-points.
So, is the end of Spain’s golden generation?
It would be too easy to get carried away on the basis of a couple of results on the European stage but what was surprising was how much of an advantage both teams had before capitulating.
This simply would not have occurred in years gone by with a consistent almost automatic steely determination to get the job done not allowing either opponents even so much as a chance to get back into the tie.
One such result may be considered just a bad day at the office but for it to occur to both of Spain’s big hitters will only add to spur on the rest of Europe that the European football market is more open than ever.
Whoever Real Madrid get drawn against in the semi-finals will have been buoyed by the events in Madrid on Wednesday night and will head into the game with renewed belief.
Whilst for Barcelona, they will have to contend with just claiming the league title and a Copa del Rey final against Sevilla.
Actually, when you look at it like that, it’s not all bad for Spain’s heavyweights.