Barcelona’s Champions League exit at the hands of Ajax has been interpreted by many as a decline in French football and an unwelcome validation for Spanish dominance.
Barcelona’s Champions League exit has been described as a “resignation from football elite” by Spanish media. The result was 8-2 against Liverpool in the first leg of their quarter-final clash.
Gerard Pique is one of numerous Barcelona veterans who have witnessed the squad fall from grace and into the Europa League.
As their catastrophic fall culminated in a generational event – being knocked out of the Champions League before Christmas – one Spanish tabloid dubbed it Barcelona’s “resignation from the football elite.”
In an interview with DAZN, midfielder Sergio Busquets said: “Right now, we’re in a horrible mood. We’re in a challenging circumstance. We’ve gotten ourselves into this situation, and it’s causing us a lot of pain.”
They were last out of the Champions League in 2003-04, their last season in the Uefa Cup/Europa League. Celtic knocked them out of the competition.
The last time they didn’t make it out of a Champions League group was in 2000, when Leeds finished ahead of them. Since then, Barca has won the competition four times.
AS, a Spanish website, stated: external-link “With the attitude of a tired tiger who is lazy to hunt a baby gazelle, but does what nature expects of him, Barca staged their resignation from the football elite in a display of all their flaws when they fell without complaint against a Bayern Munich that, again in third gear and without giving the impression of wanting to humiliate, dislodged Barca 3-0 with the attitude of a tired tiger who is lazy to hunt a baby gazelle, but does what nature expect
They will now compete in the Europa League knockout stage. This is a match against the Europa League group runner-up for the chance to face the group winners in the last 16.
Perhaps most damaging, former Real Madrid player Steve McManaman stated on BT Sport that relegation to the Europa League may be a positive thing since winning it would guarantee Champions League qualification next season.
They are presently in seventh position in La Liga after replacing Ronald Koeman with club star Xavi.
Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo told Movistar, “It’s a terrible outcome, and they had opportunities to make it worse.”
Araujo was one of four center defenders who spent the last hour of the game in Barca’s back four.
“Ultimately, we qualified because of what we accomplished in the previous games, not because of this game,” he concluded.
The remaining games resulted in two more 3-0 losses and exactly two goals, both against Dynamo Kyiv, who are now in last place in the Ukrainian league.
“It’s true that we’re not among the greatest teams in Europe right now,” Araujo said.
“We would have qualified if we were. Now our goal is to win the Europa League. We must go out and compete in order to win.”
Is Barcelona really that bad?
PSG’s Lionel Messi has five goals in the Champions League this season, while Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann has four. Both players departed Barcelona in the summer.
Barcelona’s roster consists of a mix of aging veterans, players who would never have been considered for one of the great Barca squads, and brilliant rookies.
They famously lost Lionel Messi, their all-time leading scorer, and several other first-team players during the summer as part of a financial crisis that they are still dealing with.
Joe Cole, a former Chelsea midfielder, stated on BT Sport: “Outside of the young players, I wouldn’t say there are three people they’d like to retain. With that set of players, they just cannot compete in the Champions League.”
This was their eighth loss in all competitions this season. After 15 games, they are 16 points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid.
“I don’t think many believed in the miracle that was required today,” Spanish football writer Pete Jenson told Radio 5 Live.
“There is now such a chasm between the greatest European teams and Barcelona.” They’re now in a new league, the Europa League, and I don’t believe many of their fans believe they can win it.
“They’ve got some significant problems on their hands – sponsorship agreements are expiring, and they’ve got financial concerns to cope with as well.”
“They won’t admit it, but they were in serious trouble two or three seasons ago, and it was Messi who kept them afloat and in tournaments.”
The title on the Spanish daily website Marcaexternal-link was ‘Europa League disgrace.’
“Barca is still stuck in the past. The nightmare started when Bayern Munich defeated Barcelona 2-8 in Lisbon in the 2020 quarter-finals, and it continues to this day after losing in Munich and being relegated to the Europa League.”
Are there any promising signs?
Xavi has taken over Barcelona at a terrible point in their history.
Barcelona has a lot of talented young players, but they need to improve their overall quality if they want to return to the top.
All three players are senior Spain internationals: Gavi, 17, Ansu Fati, and Pedri, all 19. In France Football’s recent Ballon d’Or event, Pedri was voted the best young player of 2021.
After replacing Koeman, they signed former captain Xavi, 41, from Qatari side Al Sadd, and there have been some encouraging indicators in terms of performance.
“Even after five games, it’s apparent that Xavi has characteristics of Pep Guardiola in him,” Spanish football journalist Jenson stated.
“He exudes charm and has a strong vision. But, in the end, if you don’t have the players, you won’t be able to put it into effect.”
“They’ve got the proper guy in charge,” ex-Liverpool striker Peter Crouch stated on BT Sport. He is well-versed in the club’s operations and the young academy’s operations.
“Because they don’t have the money to purchase players like they do, their future is youth.” They need to start with the young guys and work their way up.
“They have some nice ones,” says the author, “but it won’t be a fast process; it may take five years.”
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The “europa league draw” is a competition that Barcelona had been dominating for years. The Spanish football club’s Champions League exit has led to the resignation of many people from the elite in the sport.
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