Europe, an endless anguish for Barcelona | Sports

The return of Manchester from the Barcelona expedition after falling in the round of 32 of the Europa League was calm. Far from the traumatic eliminations of the past, when Roma (2018) and Liverpool (2019) signed two historic comebacks, 3-0 and 4-0 respectively, or when Bayern gave him an unprecedented beating in Lisbon 2020 (2 -8). This time, after falling at Old Trafford, the blaugrana left Europe without reproach, beyond some scuffle between Lewandowski and Ansu Fati, after the azulgrana youth player swiped a clean header from the Pole in discount, as published by the Diario As. “We have shown our faces”, justified Xavi. It is the first time in the new century that Barça has said goodbye to Europe in February and eight seasons have passed since they lifted the last Champions League in Berlin in 2015. At that time, Messi, Suárez and Neymar led the attack of the team led by Luis Enrique from the bench.

“It’s a goal problem,” reflected one of the locker room heavyweights, when he was still in Manchester, with defeat in his mouth. “We lack a goal. If Lewy does not score, no one scores ”, added the same source. Without mentioning names, with Dembélé in the infirmary, the Barça group understands that Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres and Raphinha could not say a word at Old Trafford. “For this level you are ready or not. With Pedri, Gavi and Ousmane we would surely have generated more attack options, ”he insisted. Barcelona finished off six times (three on goal) for United’s 12 (five). “In defense,” he pointed out; “we are strong”. Barcelona, ​​however, has not left a clean sheet in any of its eight European games in the 2022-2023 campaign (12 goals conceded in the Champions League and four in the Europa League). The numbers contrast with those accumulated in the League: seven goals received and 17 clean sheets.

“The team has improved compared to last season,” warned the coaching staff before the duel against United. “But”, they completed; “We are still far from City, PSG, Bayern…”. And Manchester, according to Xavi, was already back in the football elite. “It is the best United in recent years,” stressed the Barcelona coach, in the run-up to the duel at Old Trafford. Ten Hag changed the face of the England giant. He did it, in any case, with a checkbook: he invested 243 million in transfers. Barcelona also opted to reinforce Xavi’s squad: 158. A figure that stretches to 220 if the incorporation of Ferran Torres is added in the winter transfer window for the 2021-2022 campaign.

It happens, however, that United resurfaces in Europe while Barcelona is still trapped in its continental crossroads. And the club no longer has anywhere to scratch to reinforce the squad. After selling assets for close to 800 million last summer, Barcelona no longer has grandmother’s jewels in its closet. And if he finds them, Javier Tebas, president of LaLiga, does not plan to accept them as income to balance the fair play financial. “The levers (a euphemism used by Laporta to describe the transfer of the club’s assets) will no longer be useful for next year. You have to lower the wage bill, ”warned the leader of the employers’ association. Barça, then, will have to reduce the cost of its squad by around 200 million and in the sports management they are already thinking about which players they can transfer.

“We always said that the objective was the League. We did not recover any casualties for the match against Almería, but we are calm. We are not concerned about the elimination of the Europa League ”, they stressed this Friday morning in the coaching staff. In the economic area, however, the situation worries a little more. Barcelona had in the budget to play the quarterfinals of the Champions League. He did not succeed: 20 million less. And now he has lost the possibility of entering 15 million in the event that he had lifted the Europa League. “The club also loses value. Falling in the Europa League affects the Barça brand ”, they maintain in offices at the Camp Nou. Leader in the League, Barcelona’s anguish in Europe has no end.

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