In perhaps one of the darkest nights in Catalan history, Barcelona were handed an 8-2 drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich. And while the result itself is humiliating, what’s even more embarrassing is the plight of this one time’s” all winning club.”
Most footballing encounters become a kind of fuzzy backdrop in our minds once the 90 minutes of action is over. Some become more highlighted courtesy of a magical moment like Maradona’s goal of the century. Yet others become etched in our minds courtesy of their significance like Real Madrid’s la Decima. Yet others become memorable owing to their drama like Liverpool’s “Miracle at Instanbul.”
But rarely, very rarely comes a match which shuns our beliefs about the limits of football. The ones which make our minds stunned.The likes of which ruin careers of even greats.The matches which become a source of unimaginable joy for one side and a source of constant agony, pain, and humiliation for the other. Brazil vs Germany of 2014 FIFA WC semis was one such match.
This Bayern vs Barcelona encounter belongs to this category.
Barca’s journey: From brilliant to battered:
It was in the summer of 2017 that Barcelona had lost to eternal rivals Real Madrid in a closely contested La Liga. However, the deadly MSN were still going strong and the status of Barcelona being the team to beat was pretty much unharmed.
But, the signs were there. They had got a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of PSG in that year’s Champions League round of 16, only to be rescued by the brilliant trio of Messi, Suarez, and Neymar in the second leg. They were further beaten 3-0 at the hands of Juventus in the next round and this time even MSN couldn’t bring about any magic.
It was clear that Barca depended more on the quality of certain individuals to thrive at clutch moments instead of being the cohesive unit that it was in its golden days. And that is the problem of depending on individuals. You can win matches, not tournaments and the days these “individuals” are subdued, you are clueless.
Then came the entire Neymar transfer saga. The one which doesn’t seem to have done any good for either Neymar(until now, though he finally seems to be justifying his tag ) or Messi or the Catalans. Iniesta departed the next summer and Xavi was long gone. Suarez, Pique, and Busquets were finally caught up by father time.
2010 Tiki Taka
2011 Tiki Taka
2012 Tiki Taka
2018 Messi Do Something
2019 Messi Do Something
2020 Messi Do Something
— Furkan Kaya (@Furkankaya23) August 14, 2020
Add all this and what are you left with-
A battered and bruised giant of the past whose answer for every question you pose to them is-
Messi Do Something
From Guardiola to Setien: The change in Barca DNA
Whereas Real Madrid always believed in high spending to assemble a team of “Galacticos”, Barcelona believed in developing players, with innumerable greats rising from the annals of revered La Masia.
But after Pep left, something changed. Perhaps it was the rise of Barcelona as the dominant club in Spain ahead of Real Madrid. Perhaps it was the lure of having the best players in the world. Or perhaps it was the fact that it was raining Euros at Camp Nou.
Barcelona finally had the big bucks to get the best players in the world. The bucks to make mistakes. The luxury to have multimillion-dollar bench warmers. The luxury to be Real Madrid.
Statements on Movistar+ pic.twitter.com/BOCQfUiCRj
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 14, 2020
First came Dembele at €105 million-plus a reported €40 million add-ons, then came Phillipe Coutinho at £142 million, Barca’s most expensive signing ever. The same Coutinho who scored 2 goals along with an assist in yesterday’s encounter, but against Barcelona.
Last year’s transfer of Antoine Griezman was what finally convinced the world that the Barcelona DNA was no longer there.
When your most expensive signing scores 2 goals against you, it is a sign that change is needed. A massive change is needed.
The overhaul long due:
Gerard Pique gave one of the most honest and brutal interviews after the 8-2 drubbing and voiced what every Catalan fan has in mind.
“We have hit rock bottom. This is not the first, nor the second, nor the third time. We are not on the right path”.
“The club needs changes. And I’m not talking at the level of the coach or the players, but structurally the club needs changes of all kinds.” Pique added.
Setien has already been fired and it does seem to be a step in the right direction. What Barcelona needs right now is a coach who has the Camp Nou way ingrained in him. Bringing Xavi back would be a great next step, given Pep has no intention of leaving Manchester City at the moment.
Statements on Movistar+ pic.twitter.com/TSQFejGqig
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 14, 2020
The management with Bartemou at the helm of affairs too needs an overhaul. Messi has already voiced his opinion about the board and the fact that someone as introverted as Messi had an outburst is a sure sign of the gravity of the situation.
La Masia, which was once the talent factory of Europe needs to be restored to its former glory. And for that, the youth recognition system of Catalans needs to get active.
“We must bring in new blood to change this dynamic, and if necessary, I would be the first to leave.” Pique had added voicing this opinion.
What’s next for Messi:
It was the 85th minute of the game. Messi was dispossessed. And for perhaps the first time , he didn’t chase the opponent. He just let go. And one can’t help but wonder, is he going to let go of Camp Nou too in the same manner.
Messi has reiterated many times that he would love to end his career at Camp Nou. But the signs are worrying. From Inter Milan to Manchester City, the proposed destinations are many. And should Messi choose to end his rendezvous with Barcelona, not only would it be the end of an era but the end of football for many.
And so for the sake of Catalans, for the sake of millions of fans, for the sake of Camp Nou and for the sake of giving their greatest player a fitting swan song, Barcelona must do what all successful entities do-
Embrace the change
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Double Dismissal: FC Barcelona to sack manager Setien, sporting director Abidal following Bayern rout