Barcelona’s bad defeat against Valencia in La Liga suggests that the world’s richest club could be on the verge of a full-blown crisis.
On Sunday, Manchester United beat a club near the bottom of the third division of English football 0-6. Under normal circumstances, this would have been considered a routine result. The reality was that many thought it would be another opportunity for the club to lose and show how far it has fallen.
Last week, an almost full-strength Barcelona beat a team from the third division of Spanish football 1-2. Nobody thought Barcelona could lose. At half-time, they were very lucky not to be losing 3 or 4 zero.
Barcelona is a long way from dropping to the depths that Manchester United have gradually reached since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, but there are serious issues all over the club.
Barcelona has arguably the best player to ever play the game leading its team. It cannot be overstressed how important this has been to the recent history of the club.
Barcelona has had great players and teams over the years, but nowhere near the level of success that the club has had would have come without Messi. It’s not for nothing that “messidependencia” (Messi dependence) is an actual word used in Spanish football writing circles.
Barcelona’s great leader is now 32-years-old. He cannot be expected to carry this team on his shoulders forever. And maybe he’s starting to think, “why should I?”
In the last few seasons, Barcelona has spent over $250 million on two French players. One was a young star who had just blown up the German Bundesliga. The other was a World Cup winner who had proven himself in La Liga.
Both of these signings have not worked out. And neither look they will suddenly turn things around.
Add into this mix the fluctuating form on Artur, who was supposed to be the new Iniesta. The robust and willing Vidal who is simply not a Barcelona player. And unconvincing defensive signings like Junior Firpo and Semedo, who certainly don’t strike fear into any opposition’s forward line.
You can see a pattern emerging here that does not bode well for the team.
Suarez, Busquets, Pique, Jordi Alba, and Rakitic. These are players who are all past their best, but the club has not found any suitable replacements for them.
On any given day in La Liga they can all turn it on and wind back the clock, but success is not measured In domestic titles in Spain.
This current hotchpotch of bad signings and aging veterans just won’t cut it at the elite level of Champions League quarter and semi-finals anymore.
The debacle over the firing of Valverde, who was close to the club’s on-pitch leaders. The failed attempt to almost emotionally blackmail Xavi into taking the coach’s job. All of this has left a very bad taste with the players.
Deloitte might have recently announced that Barcelona is the world’s richest football club for the first time, but this season runs a real risk of turning into a farce.
A fully functioning Real Madrid would have left Barcelona behind by now in most seasons. And in a couple of weeks, they will have their newest Galactico, Eden Hazard, back and rested to take on the business end of the season.
Barcelona is a political institution as much as a football club. A bitter presidential election is on the horizon, something that will only serve to further destabilize the club until a new president is elected.
If the product on the pitch was working, none of this would even be news. As it is, Barcelona fans might want to look to Old Trafford to see a glimpse of its future.