Monday, September 21, 2020

Barcelona: Where Do They Go Now?

Barcelona lost 8-2 to Bayern last night in a result that noone expected. Bayern were the favourites to win but if anyone would have told you it would be by the scoreline it was, you would have laughed them out of the door.

Barcelona’s loss means it is the first time in thirteen years that there is no Spanish team in the Champions League semi finals.

Barcelona’s team under ex manager Pep Guardiola is probably the best club side in football history. From Lionel Messi to Andres Iniesta. From Xavi to Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol. Barcelona boasted a team that played football out of this world, and then they further improved their squad with David Villa to replace Thierry Henry.

The Barcelona team celebrating with the trophy after their 2011 triumph against Manchester United at Wembley.

Barcelona have won four Champions League’s this century with two of them under Guardiola. Before Guardiola, there was Ronaldinho and after Guardiola there was Neymar and Suarez. 

Barcelona have had some of the greatest players in history on their team. However, this loss to Bayern shows how their team is not what it once was.

Barcelona just seemed incapable at the back and didn’t have that same X-Factor going forward. They started the game off well but the further the game went on, the more the Catalan side faded away.

Lionel Messi looking on in despair after the loss.

Antoine Griezmann and Frankie De Jong were the two headline signings coming into the 2019-20 season. 

Griezmann came in with a big reputation after 133 goals in 257 games for Atletico to go along with his World Cup winners medal but only managed 15 goals in all competitions this season in 48 games. 

This is not a bad return but it is not the amount of goals we are used to seeing with Griezmann.

Griezmann’s 15 goals is the lowest amount scored in a season by the Frenchman since his 11 goals in 35 games in 2012-13 with Real Sociedad.

Griezmann during his time in Sociedad.

Barcelona are a massive club with a rich history and plenty of expectation both from the fans and the staff. 

Griezmann perhaps has let the size of the club get to him. However, at Atletico he was the main man in the attack but now he has gone to a club who has an attack featuring the best player ever in Lionel Messi. This is along with Luis Suarez. 

He has gone from a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond.

Barcelona’s young midfielder Frankie De Jong also came to Barcelona with high expectation after his time in Ajax where he was named the UEFA Midfielder of the Season in 2018-19. However he has not lived up so far and he looked way off the mark in the defeat last night. 

He is a definite work in progress and he is only 23 so he still has time to develop, especially when he spent parts of this season out of position. 

Barcelona simply do not have the team they once did and whilst they still do try to play football the right way, i do not feel they have the manager or players to do this well any more.  

Robert Lewandowski heading in against Barcelona.

An ageing Pique, Suarez, Arturo Vidal and Sergio Busquets as well as a young prospect still learning has Barcelona in that stage where their players are either too old or still developing. 

The manager Quique Setién is likely to be dismissed after a campaign that has ended with no league title or European Cup. His appointment raised eyebrows after his time in Real Betis.

Who Would Replace Setién?

The way the game has gone the past few years, you would not be shocked if Barcelona went for ex players such as Xavi or Thierry Henry but i feel Barcelona should go for someone experienced such as Mauricio Pochettino. 

Although if Guardiola wins the Champions League with Manchester City, could he be a dark horse for the job? I doubt he would go back but we have seen Zinedine Zidane go back to Real Madrid after three consecutive Champions League’s.

In conclusion, Barcelona need to go back to the drawing boards. 

They have appointed several managers in recent memory who have not been up to the job and their transfer policy has been questionable in recent years with buying players such as Kevin Prince Boateng and Malcolm as well as the allowing their 23 year old prospect Arthur to Juventus for £66 million with a 30 year old Miralem Pjanic going the other way. 

This was strange that they allowed a player that young and with potential leave for what is not that much money in today’s market for a 30 year old midfielder on the start of the end of their career. 

Barcelona are going through a transitional period and perhaps we may not see them reach a Champions League for at least the next three or four years.

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