It is fair to say Barcelona have not started the season in their normal, dominant way. Three defeats already in La Liga has seen plenty of fans voice their concerns and quite rightly so – especially as they only lost three games the whole of the last campaign. But despite this, Barcelona still sit top of the La Liga table after twelve games but they find themselves a tad fortunate, due to plenty in behind slipping up.
Another recent upset saw Barcelona draw 0-0 with Slavia Prague in the Champions League, who were meant to be the so-called whipping boys of the group. This was seen as a fixture Barcelona were meant to win by a few goals, but others may have been wary of Slavia, having only won 2-1 in Prague a couple of weeks prior. However, despite the recent issues, Barcelona are fourth favourites in the football betting to win the Champions League, with Manchester City, Liverpool and PSG ahead of them.
Even more worryingly, recent reports have suggested the Barcelona players who featured in the Liverpool game last campaign remain in a “state of shock” and are still mentally dealing with their performance at Anfield – which perhaps reflects as to why the Catalan side have yet to really find top gear domestically.
The defeat to Liverpool was one of the worst suffered in Barcelona’s history, but the club should be showing its resilience and ability to bounce back – not using the result as an excuse for their poor performances this term.
Barcelona are very much in a transition period. They are no longer a side filled with world beaters and it is going to take time in order to integrate youth players into the side. However, players such as Andres Iniesta and Xavi are yet to be replaced, if that is at all possible. Frenkie de Jong has come in from Ajax and has made an early impact, while Arthur continues to impress, but the duo in Iniesta and Xavi are footballing icons.
It is Barcelona’s scouts and staff’s responsibility to find and train the next generation. Barcelona are in a period of change, but this needs to be seen as an opportunity, rather than a negative period of time. The January transfer window could well be massive for Ernesto Valverde and Barcelona. It is yet to be seen whether or not they will attempt to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou, or whether they will target other players who might be able to get give them more bite in midfield.
There’s been plenty of split opinion on their latest big purchase in Antoine Griezmann, who hasn’t quite set the world alight in the early stages of his career. It’s certainly tough at Barcelona, with fans expecting high quality performances from the very beginning. He’s already been quite vocal about his lack of relationship with Lionel Messi, which has angered certain fans.
The focus and expectation from fans is the Champions League. How they overcome any psychological problems amongst the players is up to Valverde and his staff to re-energise his squad. Barcelona haven’t won the Champions League since 2015, and the expectation to overturn this is only going to get bigger and bigger.