Europa exit to Eintracht and run of THREE straight home losses have put a reality check on Barcelona’s revival but Xavi is refusing to panic ahead of critical summer rebuild that could see Griezmann and Coutinho sold and a chase for Lewandowski
- Barcelona’s resurgence has come grinding to a halt with set of poor results
- They were dumped out of the Europa League by Eintracht Frankfurt at home
- Xavi’s side then lost two straight home league games, both by a 1-0 scoreline
- They are still likely to finish second in LaLiga but it’s a reality check for the boss
- Attention will soon turn to a summer overhaul of their playing personnel
- In and outs at the Nou Camp will determine whether Barca can compete again
A month after beating Real Madrid 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu Barcelona have slumped to three straight home defeats in the same season for the first time ever.
But coach Xavi has been firing out ‘don’t panic’ messages behind the gates of the club’s Joan Gamper training ground this week.
The mission when he took over was to deliver Champions League football for next season, and the team are still on course to achieve that. And they must, or the transfer plans for the summer will be in even more disarray.
Barcelona slumped to a third straight home defeat against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday
The team’s resurgence this season under coach Xavi has hit the buffers in recent days
Barcelona are still likely to finish second to Real Madrid but have Sevilla and Atletico near them
There is a feeling that the thumping win over Madrid and an extraordinary away performance to beat Napoli in the Europa League were so welcomed by supporters that everyone at the club got carried away and the aim for the season was rewritten as win the Europa League and make a title challenge.
Barca’s poor run
April 14 Eintracht Frankfurt (H) L 2-3
3-4 on aggregate; Europa League quarter-final, second leg
April 18 Cadiz (H) 0-1
April 21 Real Sociedad (A) W 1-0
April 24 Rayo Vallecano (H) L 0-1
After defeats to lowly Cadiz, almost as lowly Rayo, and the ninth best team in Germany (albeit one transformed in Europe) that now looks like wishful thinking.
So it’s back to the original plan – finish top-four, top-two preferably so as to pocket the Spanish Super League money for next season too – 8m euros is a big sum when you are having to sell for four-times the value of the players you want to buy.
That does not mean that the last 270 minutes of football at the Camp Nou have not been a huge wake-up call. The statistics say that all is not well with project Xavi right now.
Some of the numbers will worry him more than others. Giving the ball away is what kept him awake at night as a player and as a manger it’s no different.
The team had more possession than Cadiz, Rayo Vallecano and Eintracht Frankfurt in these three home defeats but they also gave the ball away more than their opponents each time.
There is also a lack of goals over the whole season with Real Madrid having scored 33 more so far.
With Erling Haaland seemingly just a mirage that the club wandered towards until it became clear financially there was no real substance to their chances, attention has been turned to Robert Lewandowski who does not want to sign a new contract at Bayern and only has a year left on his current deal.
Adama Traore sees a chance go begging during Sunday’s frustrating defeat to Vallecano
Defender Jordi Alba can’t believe it after a third consecutive home defeat for Barcelona
The bad news is that Bayern will just let him run the contract down unless someone pays £33m for him and to raise that sort of money Barcelona must create gains of £135m elsewhere.
The way Frenkie de Jong walked off the pitch after being substituted on Sunday and then went straight down the tunnel without acknowledging his coach have not been lost on anyone.
If Erik ten Hag really wants Manchester United to move for the Dutch midfielder then for all that Xavi believes in the 24-year-old, Barcelona could see him as an asset that if sold would allow them to buy a new talisman up front.
They will not get £135m for him but if Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho are successfully permanently moved on this summer and a version of La Liga’s CVC investment fund deal is accepted then a transfer kitty will exist.
Some of the money will have to be spent on the defence too.
Barcelona were dumped out of the UEFA Europa League by Eintracht Frankfurt
The German club’s supporters took over the Nou Camp in an embarrassment for the club
The greatest Barcelona team – the one that won six out of six trophies in Pep Guardiola’s first season – was built on a brilliant back four with a younger Dani Alves and Gerard Pique supported by Eric Abidal and Carles Puyol.
They are still relying on Pique an incredible 11 years later and Alves is still playing at right-back.
Barcelona’s first move to try to address the problem is to renew Ronald Araujo until 2026 but now they need to build a defence around him.
Bayern Munich’s brilliant striker Robert Lewandowski will be a summer target – but the German champions could well let him contract run down next season
Antoine Griezmann (left) and Philippe Coutinho (right) could finally be sold this summer
Sunday Mallorca (H)
May 7 Real Betis (A)
May 10 Celta Vigo (H)
May 15 Getafe (A)
May 22 Villarreal (H)
Xavi seems committed to turning Eric Garcia into the Uruguayan’s long term partner but has not been quite as keen to work on making Sergino Dest the alternative to Alves. Jordi Alba on the other flank, meanwhile, has no real substitute.
These are all things that need to be decided before the end of the season because as Real Madrid are proving with Antonio Rudiger and Barcelona themselves with Andreas Christensen, deals needed to be sorted now.
So long as it doesn’t distract from the run-in.
Barcelona are home to Mallorca on Sunday and must end this awful run in their own stadium.
They then visit Betis, host Celta Vigo, visit Getafe and sign off at home to Villarreal. They must do it all without the hugely influential Pedri (all six of their defeats this season have come with him missing) but they must do it.
Signing players is hard enough for them at the moment. Doing it not having qualified for the Champions League, will be so much more difficult.
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