Spanish media let out a round of fierce fury hat engulfed the whole media when Barcelona went down 4-0 against Liverpool in the second leg of the semi-final clash in the UEFA Champions League. The media left no stones unturned to call Barcelona an ‘embarrassment’, ‘shameful’, torn to shreds’ and many other adjectives. This was indeed a shocking defeat for Barcelona especially when they were comfortably in the lead after defeating Liverpool by three goals in the first leg of the semi-final clash in the UEFA Champions League.
Experts started losing their heads as to how this feat was possible. Many blamed the players especially Valverde and Sanchez you had to bear the brunt of some of the harshest critics that came from the Spanish Media. Others blamed the poor team unity and the lack of seriousness that Barcelona allegedly depicted on the field in the match against Liverpool. Many took the high road and focused more on the win of Liverpool and their amazing comeback, that not just won the match but also won the hearts of people.
Liverpool became the living example of an underdog story, who conquered all odds and never gave up to finally win.
Yet, the radar cannot be shifted from one of the mightiest and best teams in the world of Football clubs- Barcelona. It is important that Barcelona looks back and figure out, why they were looking lost when the sea of red-shirted men managed to conquer them and show them the door.
This was particularly disappointing for the immense fan following that Barcelona has and commands all over the world. The fans know that Messi is someone who never promises but always delivers, but when this little magician came out in the public before Barca’s 2018-19 season and promised that he would get the Champions League cup back, then many believed it. After all, Lionel Messi was promising this and with grave conviction, no one could possibly ignore it.
Yet, the exact opposite happened when they took on Liverpool for the semi-final. After a great performance in the first leg, they seemed to have lost the plot in the second one. They were not even close to the brilliant form that they usually have. While throughout the whole season they were not their 2009-12 best, but certainly when they delivered three goals and were leading by 3-0 in the first leg, everyone chanted that the Champions League Trophy is coming home, just as Leo Messi had promised.
Last year too the situation was not too different when Barcelona looked like a fierce army of footballers who defeated Roma in the first leg of the quarters by 3-1. Yet once again, in the second leg they crumbled and lost 3-0 as Roma qualified based upon the away goal.
But, unlike last year, Barcelona seemed much more stable, which they owed to the presence of Arturo Vidal in the midfield.
Leo Messi doesn’t promise much, he generally delivers. But when the little genius, ahead of Barcelona’s 2018-19 season, said that his biggest aim was to bring back the Champions League trophy to Barcelona, there was a conviction that was impossible to ignore. The defence too hadn’t come under much scrutiny, until it collapsed devastatingly at the worst possible time.
Yet, the question arises, why did such a situation occur when everything was going well and fine until now. How did the English team get the better off a mighty team like Barcelona? While many attributed it to sheer bad luck and lack of form, there were many more reasons, that Barca is yet to address in the season:
Over-dependence on Messi and Suarez
If Suarez is a magician then Messi is the wizard. These two have conjured up an amazing spell to ensure that Barcelona is in full control in the La Liga. Yet, even then there was a small hiccup that people started feeling that something was not right.
This was especially evidenced by their recent match against Villarreal, a side that is trying to make their mark in the La Liga. After being 2-0 before the half time whittles were blown, Barcelona was suddenly down 2-4, with only 10 minutes to go. What changed? Messi was taken off the field. With just 10 minutes to go, Barca had to reintroduced to the field as the Argentine and the Uruguayan ensured that atlas Barca could save their face, and salvaged one point.
It wasn’t that Messi wasn’t in a good form when they took on Liverpool, but the problem lies in the fact that there was no one else to take up the burden and go for it, no else could do his job. Just to bring this into perspective- In the last season, Ronaldo didn’t score in the semis against Bayern and even in the final against Liverpool, but the team still won.
Coutinho, with an exceedingly big salary of 13.5m euros, who was bought by Barca from Liverpool, hasn’t justified his price tag at all. His transfer was one of the high profile transfers, with many hyped up stories revolving around his great form and talent. Yet, the Brazilian in his first full season for Barca hasn’t been able to cut in from the wider positions, unlike Neymar. As the season and his journey in Barca continued, he too started losing confidence and many started speculating that his association with Barca will soon come to an end.
Finishing off Liga too early:
It’s a tricky thing to happen. We have seen in the past teams like Bayern Munich and Juventus winning the league by end of March and then falter in Europe. Probably, an element of complacency creeps into the system when a team is so dominant in the domestic league, thereby not factoring in the danger of walking on thin ice that is Champions League.
Where is Umtiti?
Umtiti came into the limelight after his dominating and crucial presence in France during the World Cup. He was seen as great support for Pique in Barcelona, yet with injuries and a consistent lack of form has rendered this Frenchman helpless. His place was given to compatriot Clement Lenglet. Against Liverpool in the Champions League clash, Barca looked pressurised again a team who was playing without their best players. It was at this time that the stable form of Umtiti was missed sorely, even though Barca has almost made up their mind to bag Matthijs De Ligt from Ajax for next season in the Frenchman’s place.
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Also published on Medium.