Barcelona made all of it in regards to the Champions League and after surrendering La Liga to Actual Madrid, now it’s all they’ve left. Successful the title final season for the eighth time in 11 years was by no means going to be sufficient. Successful the double had not been both the yr earlier than. La Liga and the Copa del Rey had grow to be Barca’s default, their home dominance taken as a right after which diminished by disappointment in Europe.
A large number of a season might nonetheless be saved by the Champions League however even essentially the most optimistic of followers count on the worst towards Bayern Munich, Barcelona’s possible opponents within the quarter-finals.
Many, together with Lionel Messi, are frightened even about getting previous Napoli, with the pandemic-delayed final 16 matchup poised at 1-1. “I mentioned way back that if we continued on this approach, it will be very troublesome to win the Champions League and that has been proven to be the case in La Liga too,” mentioned a pissed off Messi after the loss to Osasuna on Thursday.
“If we need to combat for the Champions League we must change loads as a result of in any other case the match towards Napoli, we are going to lose that as properly.”
Simply over a yr on from nearly successful the treble, Barcelona look set to complete with out a trophy of any variety for the primary time in 12 years.
And but the priority will not be a lot the various failures of this season however the risk they may very well be simply the beginning.
Messi is 33 and his anger is directed primarily on the board, whose management has left Barcelona with a staff seemingly neither for the current nor the long run.
There was no succession plan for Messi since Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2018 and that world report price has been squandered on gamers which have didn’t settle or been bought to stability the books.
Antoine Griezmann purchased for 120 million euros, left Atletico Madrid for the Camp Nou and what he thought can be the head of his membership profession. But earlier this month, he was lowered to coming off the bench, towards Atletico, in injury-time.
And it isn’t simply Messi nearing the top. Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba are all 31 or older.
Off the pitch, political blunders have angered the dressing room, with Messi issuing a public rebuke to sporting director Eric Abidal in February over the sacking of Ernesto Valverde.
Eradicating Valverde might need been comprehensible final summer time after two profitable years appeared to have run their course.
However a change mid-season, with Barca prime of the desk, and to a coach like Quique Setien, whose concepts want time to be absorbed, now seems reckless.
Setien has admitted managing a squad like Barcelona’s has been a problem for him. He has intimated that some gamers must suppose extra in regards to the staff.
He has made errors too and it stays to be seen if he pays together with his job. Bartomeu has mentioned Setien will keep for the Champions League however the 2-1 dwelling defeat by Osasuna intensified the doubts.
“I hope so,” mentioned Setien, when requested on Thursday if he can be in cost subsequent month.
However with presidential elections on the membership to return subsequent yr, the place will not be a sexy one for an elite coach.
If Bartomeu’s successor loses, Victor Font, a rival candidate, needs to nominate Xavi Hernandez. It means both Setien or his alternative face the prospect of 1 full season within the job, all of the whereas missing both authority or certainty in the long run.
Zinedine Zidane has proven what might be performed with an ageing Actual squad that seems lifeless on its toes. However it’s laborious to see who might carry out an equal rescue act at Barca or who can be ready to do it with this board nonetheless in place.
With out cash to spend within the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, the reply may very well be to show once more to youth, with Riqui Puig and Ansu Fati already breaking by way of this season.
But in a dysfunctioning staff, determined to win earlier than Messi retires, that strategy gives no ensures.
Messi’s clock hangs over the whole lot, with each failure enhanced by the sense that the membership’s biggest ever participant is being wasted. The largest fear now’s it might get even worse.
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