In case you have been living under a rock you will be aware of the demise of a formerly great team. Barcelona FC. Not only were the Catalan giants knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich, but they were utterly embarrassed by their German opponents. You may get an 8-2 scoreline in a pre-season friendly with no first-team players. Or in a lopsided domestic cup match against a team divisions lower. But this was in the biggest European competition where teams, especially at this stage, are supposed to be equal.
Quique Setien was fired almost immediately after the game. If that came as a surprise to you I would have to ask ‘where have you been?’ While this result was embarrassing to Barcelona and their fans it shouldn’t have come as a shock. Barcelona’s demise has all the qualities of a horrific car crash you just can’t take your eyes off. Unfortunately, it’s been evident for a while and this trashing just compounds it.
Barcelona has been bad for some time now. While their positioning in La Liga as runners up to Real Madrid might cover some cracks it can’t cover them all. Like when earlier this year their star player Lionel Messi got into a war of words with director Eric Abidal. Or how disastrous the transfers of Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé have been. Not to mention they are now looking for their third manager in eight months. The club is free falling.
The one positive right now for Barcelona is they still have Messi. Despite his aging years the Argentinian is still one of the greatest players on the planet. But not everything is sunshine and lollipops there either. A number of rumors are circulating that Messi will move on should he not get what he wants. As to what this is, it would seem he is unhappy with the direction the club has taken under the directors and simply wants to get back to winning.
Unfortunately for Lionel and Barcelona that is easier said than done.
Marc-André ter Stegen is not a bad goalkeeper but unfortunately for him, Barcelona’s defense is worse than bad… it’s absolutely shocking. Gerard Piqué cares, as was evident by his emotional interview after the thrashing by Bayern. Problem is he’s also 33 years old and a long way past his prime. Meanwhile, Nélson Semedo is still seeing Alphonso Davies in his nightmares and was exposed as the average defender he truly is.
It doesn’t get any better in midfield. Sergio Busquets is no longer able to live on the coattails of Xavi or Andreas Iniesta. Utility player Sergi Roberto also shows how far the once great La Masia academy has fallen. If he is the best it can produce Barcelona are in trouble. Frenkie de Jong is trying, but the 23 year old from Ajax is still learning his trade yet everything seems to fall on his shoulders.
Then up front, they had to revert to the tested Messi and Suarez partnership. This was despite Suarez being nowhere near the player he once was. This is down to a number of failed transfers like the Griezmann and Dembele ones mentioned above. It also includes the Philippe Coutinho move from Liverpool that worked out so well they loaned him out to Bayern. It will sting all the more that he was able to come off the bench and score twice in the 8-2 humiliation.
The Search Begins.
Now the search is underway for yet another manager with former player Xavi and ex Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino leading the way. For either to get a fair chance an upheaval is needed in the board of directors, but even then it won’t come easy. One of the great things about watching Barcelona in the last 10-15 years was the link between the first team and the academy. That’s no longer there. Plus with everything currently going on in the world, the financial restrictions they face Is significant. It would be like jumping into a river with both hands and legs tied and hoping you can survive.
But if you are successful you will be spoken about in the same breath as Johan Cruyff. That is why the Catalan giant will have no shortage of interested parties once they start the interview process.