A night of despair.
Something we could not have imagined even the worst of our dreams.
A memory we never wanted but will have to live with.
Barcelona 2 Bayern Munich 8.
Past midnight on 15th August 2020, the Blaug-Rana familia watched; salty tears dripping down their face as Coutinho netted the 7th.
We felt helpless. Trailing by 5 goals with just 5 minutes remaining on the clock.
Everyone had surrendered!
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, another whistle was blown & the score line was 8-2.
We could not bear to watch anymore as we eagerly waited for the referee to blow for full-time.
Those on the pitch cried. Setien refused to even look up. The substitutes lashed out.
It was done. It was past done. Barcelona were left begging for mercy.
We fell crying on couch.
The very same couch we have been falling to every year.
Against Juventus, Roma, Liverpool & now Bayern.
At the same stage in the same competition.
For the reasons quite alike.
While the entire world was losing sleep over the game- be it celebrating or mourning, it is important to look at what had actually happened. Despite having had shameful Champions League knockouts year after year- this was different.
As the Big Man Gerard Pique put, this is Rock Bottom.
This is humiliation.
We feel devastated; although shame is the real word I’m looking for. It’s not the first, the second or the third time that something like this has happened.
One who tries and fails deserves no criticism, but this was different.
Like a kid in a class who does not bother to complete his homework, Barcelona had taken the field.
Busquets was under-confident, the defence shaky and goalkeeper Ter Stegen’s distribution and handling of the ball very poor. The surpassingly holding-midfield starring Vidal was barely doing any holding & was giving away possession cheaply. The 2-man attack could barely do any attacking with Messi playing deep on the field and Suarez panting up the pitch- longing for support!
At halftime with a scoreline of 4-1 in Bayern’s favour, Barcelona had the chance to improve, to re-strategize, to substitute. The kid however remained indifferent. Did not care to make any efforts to save himself from trouble.
Qique Setien took a long while before substituting Vidal for Greizmann to power the attack.
Ansu Fati coming in at 70 for Busquets couldn’t possibly turn the game around, in such little time.
A million fans from around the globe know that this is unfair.
Unfair to a club so dynamic & prestigious.
Unfair to the man leading the team, to the greatest footballer- Lionel Messi.
At 33 years of age, he had carried the team to this stage of the competition with little support. His form & game were as good as ever- as was evident against Napoli.
This match however turned out different.
Turned out to have a result Lionel Messi never deserved.
He fans realize that he does not deserve to be punished for the mistakes of the club.
All said and done, the easiest person to blame for the defeat shall be none other than the manager- Quique Setien.
This however is not always the solution.
Being knocked out 4 times in the UCL under 3 different managers, it’s time we get it straight that the problem is deeper.
The players and their attitudes.
The ageing squad and the club’s refusal to adjust & adapt.
As of 16th August, 50 hours past the defeat, the entire team has been declared “On Sale”.
Based on reports, Barcelona do not wish to retain any players from the current squad except Messi, Lenglet, De Jong & Ter Stegen.
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But is this really what we want?
Is it the end of the problem?
Can the departure of club legends like Busquets & Pique make us any stronger?
I believe not. Would I ever want the club I support to treat them this way? Never.
Players like Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba, Luiz Suarez & countless others have been the heart & soul of the team. Time after time, they have given everything for the club. Asking them to leave is equivalent to blaming the downfall on them. As unpleasant as it sounds, that is actually the case. The evidence of the same is not just this game, but the entire season.
Giving away the 5-point lead in La-Liga. Being knocked out by Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey and now the Champion’s League. The club had performed poorly throughout the season & had barely played up to standards.
The club is in dire need of a revamp – a thorough & gradual revamp.
If not, it is at the risk of becoming the next AC Milan.
At the risk of going from being the legends’ hub to being a team with nothing left, but a glorious history.
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We’re afraid this can happen.
But, we’re fans.
We neither have, nor want another option than continuing to love the club.
Supporting it all the way, through the thick & thin.
This mess that the club is in right now was created by the club itself.
A series of bad decisions, poor transfer deals, the downfall of La Masia & the lack of long-term vision. These have all played a part in the dragging us down.
With the eight-goal beating serving as an eye opener, FC Barcelona finally look to have embarked upon the right path.
With Roland Koeman taking charge in Henrik Larsson’s support, Eric Abidal resigning from the board & Josep Bartomue’s exit rumours floating, a tiny ray of hope has emerged.
The Dutch manager can be the start of the new good. His style of play with Netherlands is beautiful and absolutely in line with what Barcelona is looking for.
The transfers that club is considering- Eric Garcia, Van De beek and Memphis Depay may also prove key to improvement.
In the end, all we can say is that we agree and understand that this is not a good time & it is hard to keep faith after such a beating.
The fans need to sit tight.
They need to trust the players & team to pull the club out of this abyss.
They need to hang-on for this is football – the goals and the saves, the wins & the losses, the highs & the lows.
The game still goes on.