Barcelona will be feeling all too familiar about their current situation. Devastated by injuries, struggling for results in the Champions League, their current crisis could just as easily have been transmuted onto last season. It threatens to derail Xavi Hernandez’s reboot of the club before it has even begun. With a crucial tie against Inter coming up at Camp Nou, if punters were to have a free bet, this upcoming clash might be an entertaining way to use it. There is no clear route map to how it might go.
It should be mentioned that the problems that faced Ronald Koeman went far beyond just results and injuries. A full season previously of decisions that furrowed the brows of the Blaugrana faithful, questionable handling of both star footballers and those on the fringes of the squad.
Xavi’s side currently sit atop the La Liga table, on goal difference, and have blown several teams away with excellent performances. When Koeman left in November of last year, Barcelona were ninth, grinding their way through grim football, match by match.
Ultimately, it was the failure to qualify from their Champions League group, or for Koeman, putting them in the position to do so, which accelerated his exit.
Barcelona, having gambled much of their patrimony on footballing success, are once again on that precipice. Following defeat to Inter, they must now beat the Italians when they visit Camp Nou in order to stand any chance of qualifying for the knockout defeats. Ideally they would overhaul the 1-0 loss on aggregate too, so that they win the head-to-head battle.
Both sides will back themselves to beat Viktoria Plzen and neither will assume success against Bayern Munich. Should they lose to Inter, they will all but mathematically be out of the Champions League. A draw will leave them living on a prayer. Financially, dropping into the Europa League could cost them €40m that they had previously budgeted for.
The defeat against Inter in Milan was not just a loss, it was a failure to come up with solutions. Many chastised Koeman for having little in the way of a plan, slinging crosses at Luuk de Jong for ninety minutes. At the Giuseppe Meazza, Barcelona launched the ball towards Robert Lewandowski 50 times.
Although they came close to scoring, having a goal disallowed, there was no obvious route to goal. The Azulgrana did not find space nor did they cause Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana problems.
Whether they can remedy those issues in time for the return leg is anybody’s guess. Their injury crisis has only worsened with the losses of Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen. It may be that Inter leave Camp Nou with a heavy defeat and all is forgiven and forgotten by Barcelona. The alternative is almost too grave to consider. Should they not manage at least a win of some description, their defeat at the Giuseppe Meazza may be referenced as the moment that it all started to unravel for Xavi.
Source by Football Espana