Barcelona’s decline is no surprise. As Pique says, ‘it is what it is’

“It’s what it’s. We’re who we’re.” Gerard Pique wasn’t incorrect, however that did not make it proper. Within the closing minutes of Barcelona‘s opening Champions League match, the followers had been having a whale of a time. From the south stand got here laughter. Each time the ball was handed, there was one other cheer. However it had nothing to do with what was occurring on the pitch: they’d discovered a ball of their very own to play with. It was higher that method.

Out on the pitch Barcelona had been losing 3-0, defeated on the opening night time of the Champions League for the primary time. The membership that had gone 38 consecutive European video games unbeaten on the Camp Nou was about to lose three in a row — from one report to a different. They’d not managed a shot heading in the right direction all night time. That had by no means occurred earlier than, both. They’d let in three targets, you could not assist considering, as a result of their opponents did not actually need them to let in any extra.

But this was not a sudden collapse, nonetheless much less a one-off. It was not that a lot of a shock, both. Their opponents had been Bayern Munich, a genuinely good aspect. The final time that they had met, solely 13 months earlier than, however a lifetime in the past, Bayern had put eight previous them and since then, Barcelona had misplaced all three of forwards who began that recreation: first Luis Suarez, then Lionel Messi after which Antoine Griezmann. On Tuesday night time, Ansu Fati was injured, and Ousmane Dembele, and Sergio Aguero and Martin Braithwaite.

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Standing together with the pitch on the finish, Pique stated there have been “I do not know, 4 or 5” children on the market. There have been three 18-year-olds and a 17-year-old on the pitch. This, he stated, is simply the best way it’s. “Frankly,” he stated, “we’re not among the many favourites.”

When requested about his captain’s phrases, the coach Ronald Koeman agreed. There’s a “hole” between Barcelona and groups like Bayern, they stated. And few may disagree. Simply take a look at the workforce sheets. The entrance cowl of 1 Catalan newspaper ran with “Unhappy actuality.” It’s what it’s.

There was an acceptance of that actuality, which can have been a part of the issue. There was resignation, not revolt. Not simply after the sport, however earlier than it too. Even throughout it. For 20 minutes or so Barcelona had performed fairly effectively, that they had resisted. It may not have been a lot, however it was one thing. It was noisy on the Camp Nou and you would virtually sense supporters wanting round and considering: Well, this is not so dangerous. After which it was.

Writing in AS, Santi Gimenez recalled Mike Tyson’s well-known line about how everybody has a plan till you punch them within the mouth. In recent times, the benefit with which Barcelona have collapsed once they’ve been hit is alarming — there is a deep psychological trauma to the best way they misplaced 4-0 at Anfield in 2019 — however simply as vital this time is that the plan seemed to be to simply attempt to get via it one way or the other, perhaps fearing a trauma far worse. To proceed the metaphor, it is as if a smalltown flyweight, standing there earlier than Iron Mike, determined to cover within the nook of the ring, cowl his face and hope to keep away from getting punched within the mouth, counting the seconds till the bell.

Which, in fact, they could not do. And if Bayern did not pound away at them till they knocked them via the ropes and onto the judges’ desk under, cartoon birdies circling their heads, it was as a result of, effectively, what for? As soon as the primary punch had landed, with defender Eric Garcia backing off and Thomas Muller‘s shot deflecting in, it was completed. However nonetheless Barcelona stayed there, hanging on. As if to say, “Effectively, we misplaced, however no less than it wasn’t 8-2. A minimum of we are able to nonetheless stroll out of right here, reside to struggle one other day.” It is like they knew they could not win and the one query was about how they might lose or, one way or the other, maintain on for a degree. Like there have been some defeats that would not matter. And, truly, perhaps that is true, however that is the place the controversy lies, and among the frustration too.

“It’s what it’s” is a line that was endlessly held towards former Barca supervisor Ernesto Valverde after that chastening defeat at Liverpool — largely by individuals who clearly did not perceive it proper. (And sooner or later, it may be value revisiting Valverde and the 2 profitable seasons sandwiched between three unsuccessful seasons, a lid stored on a coming disaster.)

Again then, the Spanish set phrase “es lo que hay was not used as an expression of inferiority or acceptance of the inevitable. This time, whereas nonetheless a set phrase, it was. That is the simply the best way it’s. Everybody is aware of that, however you are not supposed to simply accept it. Or are you? Barcelona cannot be a small workforce. Or can they? Should they? Is it what they’re?

Everybody is aware of in regards to the membership’s debt (virtually €1.4 billion). They’re conscious of the explanations for this summer season’s emergency measures, even when they could query which measures had been wanted and the way they had been utilized. Most followers welcome the truth that one thing is definitely being completed and are lifelike sufficient to know that it impacts the workforce, their expectations altered accordingly. You may’t not discover that Messi went, both — for all that issues may need been dealt with otherwise, Messi’s exit is the final word expression of the disaster, the final word punishment for the financial failures of the Bartomeu regime.

You can also’t have failed to note how outdated a few of these gamers at the moment are, and the way outdated they appear. You may’t have failed to note how younger the others are. These children in whom hope is deposited. Jordi Alba‘s flaws are nothing new; that if Sergio Busquets will get turned, there’s an issue. that Samuel Umtiti, sadly, simply would not have the knees now even when he does nonetheless have the contract. You heard Sergi Roberto get whistled as if he was the most important downside you have got. And he is not the answer both.

you signed and bought Emerson, that you simply could not promote the individuals you actually wished to promote. there’s a purpose why these gamers that did come arrived as free brokers and on small contracts, and why none of them are Erling Haaland. in regards to the accidents. You should have heard Koeman say that there have been actually no extra forwards out there; you may even agree, even after Yusuf Demir got here on. You may need agreed with him saying that final season was a transitional yr. Though, transition in the direction of what? And, what does that make this season? And the way lengthy does it take, and the way far does it go?



Jurgen Klinsmann says Barcelona regarded like they lacked management of their 3-0 loss to Bayern Munch.

If you happen to’re of an optimistic or lifelike thoughts, you might be in favour of endurance, even whereas that is a advantage for which golf equipment this measurement do not often have the time. When Koeman says the workforce “will look completely totally different in 4 weeks,” or when Pique says “I am satisfied we’ll find yourself competing,” you may be on the identical web page as them. You might have been a type of excited by the introduction of Gavi, Demir and Balde, or the emergence of Nico. You in all probability do like Ronald Araujo, and you might imagine in Garcia. You may like Riqui Puig, even when the supervisor would not. You should be excited by Pedri.

However none of that makes it straightforward to observe, even in case you agreed with the tactical strategy for now. And, extra importantly, none of that makes it a simple course of to work via. As a result of if you must be affected person, you must be affected person. If there’s perception, you must imagine. Everybody has to, which isn’t straightforward. As a result of if, on Tuesday night time towards Bayern, there was a sure acceptance of actuality, there’s a distinction between accepting and embracing. And if Koeman and Pique stated it’s what it’s, the president who has to supervise the method cannot or will not. He additionally is not in any respect positive that the person in cost ought to.

Whereas they had been attempting to place the defeat in context or a dose of actuality, the next day, membership president Joan Laporta revealed a 30-second video during which he stated that this was a “situation that we at all times anticipated.” But he additionally stated that he was “indignant and disenchanted.” He requested for endurance twice and assist/belief three instances and vowed: “We are going to repair this.”

Most followers welcome Laporta’s willingness to speak, clarify the state of affairs and be open in regards to the disaster; they definitely welcome the sensation that he’s attempting to truly take motion, however it’s a curious video: quick but repetitive, pleading, missing the charisma that usually defines Laporta. It additionally modifications every little thing. By its very existence, issues are totally different now. If that is actuality, in case your workforce is unbeaten within the league and in case you actually genuinely need endurance, how does a video like this actually assist?

Javier Tebas recently accused Barcelona of being mentally held hostage by Florentino Perez, the Madrid president; there’s truly a little bit of a hostage vibe about this video. There’s little by the best way of rationalization, together with: repair what precisely? Laporta asks for belief for these working the membership, however not the supervisor. He asks for endurance, however “indignant” is not a phrase that invitations it. His clear, public disconnect with Koeman mitigates towards it.

“Indignant” just isn’t actually a phrase that matches with a state of affairs you foresaw, both. Until, in fact, it’s Koeman doing this you foresaw, your distrust of him confirmed. Repair…that? It is already public information that Laporta needs Koeman to play a sure method, which isn’t this manner. That for all that the structural issues are a actuality, for all that the squad is certainly weaker than it was, for all that Bayern are an enormous aspect and higher than us, actuality — our actuality — needn’t be this.

The actual fact that such doubts are there makes coming via this more durable — definitely coming via it collectively. As one sporting director places it, there are two kinds of managers: weak and powerful. And as soon as the gamers know he’s weak, he’s completed. There’s a trace of a menace to his supervisor within the video, a really public reproach. Extra to the purpose, there’s been greater than a touch of a menace in earlier briefings, tales instantly following conferences with media. Koeman has known as him out on these, the entire thing more and more open.

There have been stories that Laporta will give Koeman three extra video games — such ultimatums at all times appear absurd — which implies he may as effectively give him none. Which, put bluntly, many would welcome. However your supervisor is your supervisor till he is not.

Laporta doesn’t imagine in Koeman, and Koeman doesn’t belief Laporta. In the summertime, Laporta publicly admitted that he would preserve Koeman provided that he could not provide you with one thing higher. He could not. Koeman remains to be within the job due to the price — €12m that Barcelona haven’t got — of kicking him out of it. Higher if Koeman goes, however he will not: That is the job he at all times wished even like this, one which deep down he is aware of he in all probability would not have gotten in numerous circumstances.

And so right here they’re, caught in a wedding of comfort that, like a lot else at Barcelona, has turn into deeply inconvenient. However then, like a lot else at Barcelona, it’s what it’s. | Barcelona’s decline is not any shock. As Pique says, ‘it’s what it’s’


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