Barcelona was just hanging by a thread after they lost the La Liga for this season to their eternal rival, Real Madrid. The only title they were hoping to win was the UCL, the honor for the best team in Europe. Even in the last week when Barcelona tranquilized the Napoli team quite easily. Everything was looking good.
On Friday night, Bayern started an open-to-all sting operation on the dreamy Barcelona and exposed the skeleton of the Barca defense within just 30 minutes of the game. Bayern players started the brutal bombarding simply by playing high school level football, started an unspoken competition of "Who will give the next goal?" by the interval. After the interval, the bones of the Barca defense which were barely visible in half time, fall apart with a loud bang. The devasted, humiliated Barca players were just praying to God asking for "Not another one, please!". Still, Bayern completed the sting operation in 90 minutes, crushing Barca players' ego, pride, glory to nothing but dust in Estadio da Luz in Lisbon with an 8-2 tally. When the sixth goal went in, Barca players became stagnant, waiting for the nightmare to over quickly. But that was not going to happen. Barcelona's own €160 million transfer, Philipe Coutinho was left yet to ice on the cake with a quick double.
So, how does it end like this? How a team that came 2nd in La Liga has this kind of difference with the Bundesliga champions? It was all coming. A person who is closely following Barcelona for the last 5-6 years can easily say "Yes! It was coming". Why?
If anyone wants an answer to this tragedy, it is the defenders of the team who are to be blamed. Lack of confidence, shortness of will, and too aged- these are the three main reasons that caused this enigmatic failure.
The link between the defenders and goalkeeper was absent at prime times. Some of the defenders didn't even know their job role on the field. Like, Semedo was busy two times guarding the ball past the line that never cared to look for Müller or Davies over his shoulders. Two mistakes, two easy gifts. Müller scored the opening goal completely unguarded! You are giving away free space to the opponent's striker and waiting.
For all the goals, there were at least 3-4 Bayern players always present inside the box. Defenders were behaving like toddlers, can't even manage a few short passes, or clearing the ball.
This fatal flaw in the defense was easily discoverable in league matches. Simply because of this stupid defending blunders Barca lost the La Liga this year. Still is it the same thing.
The same thing goes for the players on the frontline. No composure despite having plenty of experiences, sometimes we needed to read the name on the back of the players to identify Rakitić, Griezmann. Suarez has slowed down a lot, can't sprint ahead of the Bayern defenders. He still showed his goal-scoring ability in a cool head by adding to the Barca tally just before the match ended.
'If Messi magic doesn't work, Barca loses the match'- this same line of one player-dependency is still there. Messi tried. But he is a human being after all. Nothing could ML10 managed to do.
Setien. He tried his best. But, whenever the team fails, the manager always pays. That is a universal law. What can he do with such a mismanaged team? He will be fired from the managerial position for sure. Even if he is sacked, will that do any good? No, it will not solve any problem. Only the tally of managers fired from the club will go up by one more. What happened to Valverde, the same fate is just waiting for Quique Setién.
Barcelona's playing eleven had an average of over 30 years! In the club's history that never occurred in the past. When Bayern Munchen's defending line infused with the centerline because they were in ultra-attacking mode, this aged players couldn't afford to counter-attack the Bayern defense.
To be fair, if the Barca was hanging from the cliff one of the main reasons is Josep Maria Bartomeu, the current president of FC Barcelona. Starting from recruiting misfit players, spending hundreds of millions behind bad apples like Coutinho, Griezmann, lack of vision when recruiting new managers, you can find him behind every major failed decision.
What this team need is a slow but full-scale rebuild that will replace the aged players with fresh talents. Even that will take years. But some changes are coming for sure.
EIGHT. In a UCL quarterfinal, a club concedes eight goals 'breaking their own '74-year record'. Just think how fatal it is for those fans from all over the world!
Bayern match showed how fatal is to judge a club by its past glory. Football is a game of present. The past is for the record book.
The sorrowed past of failure at big stages which doomed Barcelona should be left behind. The team management has the biggest task to do.
The Barcelona team we knew is not going to be the same. A new age is coming to the Blaugrana.