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Thousands and thousands of culers, the fans of Futbol Club Barcelona, have been in a state of rapture since Sunday night shortly before 11pm, when the referee's final whistle certified Barça's four-nil thrashing of Real Madrid. For the first time in years, the Classic of Spanish football, played at the Santiago Bernabéu stadum, was an authentic Barça football exhibition. And the floor-wiping result, which is historic, will be remembered for a long, long time.

The Barça team celebrates 

And all thanks to Xavi Hernández, and the fact that the former midfield star has, returning as coach, brought back the philosophy that made Barça the best club in the world: to dominate the opponent through the ball, maintaining possession, and dishing out punishment after punishment, in this case against the eternal rival. Barça's victory over Real Madrid was hugely celebrated because of the context, with the club still immersed in an economic crisis which had turned into a vicious circle, due to the concurrent crisis in the quality of the football and results. All in all, the club and the first team have been wandering through a desert for months... for years, really.  

The signs of approaching an oasis to break the drought have been there in recent weeks but on Sunday, the deluge arrived. Barça put the ball in the onion bag four times before an hour was up, and the celebrations were ready to begin as soon as the referee blew for time. On the pitch at the Santiago Bernabéu itself and before heading to the locker room, the Barça players greeted the small contingent of Catalan fans present in the Madrid stadium. Dani Alves pointing to his shield, and Pique, Araujo, Jordi Alba, Riqui Puig or Mingueza raising their arms. The culer party was just beginning.

On the way to the locker room, Xavi Hernández shouting and congratulating his footballers. An image that clearly demonstrates the state of maximum joy.

And once in the locker room ...chants, jumps, hugs ... the new Barça in its purest form. A team united and proving that great things may lie ahead.

And also the celebration of Dani Alves's 400 official matches with Barça.

Barça is back

However, now the team - and the supporters - have to get their feet back on the ground. Barça have not won anything yet and, in fact, it will be difficult for them to win any titles this season. The first step is to secure a place in the next Champions League. There are two ways to do that - and it would be nice to do both! A top four finish in the Santander League will get Barça there, with the team currently in third place. Winning the league title is almost impossible, with Madrid, despite their forelorn presence on Sunday night, cruising towards the title for "consistency". But the other objective - Barça's only real remaining trophy chance - is to win the Europa League, which would also provide the second possible route to the top European competition next season. First hurdle is Eintract Frankfurt in the quarter finals, with the first leg in Germany on April 7th and the return at Camp Nou a week later. 

This year, though, must be seen as a transitional season, with the need to ensure that the Xavi Hernandez model ends up being fully absorbed by the players. After the summer, it will be time to start again and fight from scratch. But as Piqué tweeted just after the end of the Classic, with a clear "We are back", the attitude is clear. And club president Joan Laporta's friendly greeting-cum-challenge to the merengues - when, as an election campaign gimmick, he paid for a massive advertising hoarding in Madrid which read "Looking forward to seeing you again" - has been perfectly fulfilled.

Edifici Madrid Laporta pancarta Eleccions Barca @JoanLaportaFCB


Main image: Barça players celebrating their victory against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu / FC Barcelona