A very turbulent period of adaptation awaits Barcelona in the post-Lionel Messi era.
And this was evident after the 3-0 debacle at home against Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday, the first defeat they suffer since Messi had to leave due to the financial morass of the Catalan club
“It is what there is, we are what we are now,” summed up captain Gerard Piqué after a game in which the Catalans were beaten from start to finish at the Camp Nou. “It is a complicated year.”
Shadow of the team that dazzled with Messi on the pitch, Barcelona could not even rehearse a shot on goal throughout the game and found themselves under permanent siege from Bayern.
“It’s what there is right now,” said coach Ronald Koeman resigned, hiding behind the absences of injured forwards Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembélé. “I don’t want to look for excuses, but everyone knows perfectly what was available, especially in the attack part. You have to accept what you have and work, “he said.
A very turbulent period of adaptation awaits Barcelona in the post-Lionel Messi era
The new uproar came just over a year after the embarrassing 8-2 defeat against Bayern itself in the 2020 Champions League quarterfinals, the setback that completely exposed Barça’s shortcomings.
“Poor Barça”, the sports newspaper Marca titled on its front page on Wednesday. “The Sad Reality”, it was labeled Sport, sports of the city of Barcelona.
Koeman, who was hired shortly after the beating against Bayern, said it will take Barcelona a long time to get back to their highest level.
“We have a lot of young players who in two or three years are going to be better. It is very difficult to accept, but to wait for things to improve and for people to improve from their injuries, ”he said.
Koeman also lost Antoine Griezmann in the transfer window last month, one in which Dutch striker Memphis Depay was the most prominent reinforcement. They also acquired Sergio Agüero, but the veteran Argentine forward is one of several players recovering from injuries, alongside Dembélé, Fati and Sergiño Dest.
On Tuesday, Koeman opened the doors of the first team to two teenagers: 18-year-old winger Yusuf Demir and 18-year-old midfielder Gavi. Midfielder Pedri González, also 18, started.
“I keep that 18-year-olds have entered,” said Piqué. “It’s reality”.
Barcelona will have no choice but to depend on its quarry to weather the disaster of its finances due to the pandemic and the mismanagement of previous directives. They could not offer Messi a new contract and the Argentine star went to Paris Saint-Germain.
The Barça president Joan Laporta asked the fans to continue encouraging the club by admitting that he will need time to straighten the course.
“I am as hurt and outraged as all of you,” Laporta said in a video message Wednesday. “I tell them that what is happening is one of the scenarios we were contemplating. And I ask for your patience. Patience and that you continue to support the team.”
Pessimism has been spreading among Barcelona fans for a long time. Not all the tickets that were put on sale for Tuesday’s game were sold out, something that rarely happened with Messi and less so in a major game for the Champions League.
Piqué said that it hurt a lot that the Camp Nou fans booed Sergi Roberto, noted for his poor performance as a right winger: “I would like to remind people that he is not a winger, he is inside. He makes the sacrifice and it hurts a lot.”
To make matters worse, Pedri and Jordi Alba suffered muscle injuries during the game and could be out of action for some time.
Piqué pointed out that the priority in the coming weeks will be to stay afloat both in the domestic tournament and in Europe.
“If we have to be frank, today we will not be among the favorites. Nor does anything happen for not being, “said Piqué about the panorama in the Champions League, evoking the rebound that led English Chelsea to the title in the last edition.
“Many times we have been and we have not succeeded. Last year, who was Chelsea’s favorite? Nobody. Football changes very fast, they are states of mind ”, added the center-back.
Barcelona’s next engagement in Group E will be a visit to Benfica at the end of this month. Benfica debuted with a 1-1 draw in the fiefdom of Dynamo Kiev.