Barcelona drew in Vigo against Celta (2-2) in what can only be considered a wasted opportunity to apply pressure on La Liga leaders Real Madrid. The Catalans were dominant for the first 35 minutes, but started diluting into a shadow of themselves as the match went by, with key players becoming less influential by the minute.
Barca have only won 23 out of a possible 48 points away from the Camp Nou in the domestic league. With that in mind, nobody would be surprised if Culers didn’t have any domestic silverware to celebrate this season.
In our latest The Barcelona Podcast, both Dan and myself debated what the board, manager and players themselves should have done better in order to avoid the current situation.
Quique Setien has been at the heart of severe criticism following Barcelona’s poor result against Celta but, to be honest, I do not believe he deserves to be identified as the main culprit for the team’s current situation.
Sure, Setien could have introduced Griezmann or Braithwaite a bit earlier in the game. Granted, the manager could have kept Umtiti on the bench and started Lenglet or even Araujo instead. Maybe Arthur would have been a better choice than Vidal in midfield.
The bottom line, however, is that Barcelona simply do not have enough high calibre players with the required level of fitness and mental freshness to succeed consistently at the highest level right now. Unfortunately, former Blaugrana manager Valverde was faced with the very same difficulties, and we all know how that one panned out in the end.
Whether it be because of injuries (Dembele, De Jong) or lack of physical freshness (Luis Suarez, Busquets, Rakitic, Jordi Alba, Pique or even Messi), I strongly believe that the issue is more about squad planning than poor day-to-day management.
In other words: While Setien could certainly take better decisions from time to time, fingers must be pointed at Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board of directors instead.
In our latest The Barcelona Podcast, Dan gave a very detailed explanation as to why the Barcelona board pushed so hard to make the Arthur-Pjanic swap deal happen before the end of June – which you can listen to here.
Personally, I just can’t understand how a historical club of Barca’s calibre has been forced to prioritise financial decisions to sporting excellence so often of late – the sale of Carles Perez to Roma, the Cillessen-Neto swap with Valencia last summer being another two prime examples.
Ultimately, all Culers around the world can do right now is hope that Socis with a right to vote take a hard look at what Bartomeu’s board have brought the club and, if they deemed that to be insufficient, then elect another potential leader in the next Barcelona elections – currently scheduled for Summer 2021.
In the meantime, I am afraid that we should all thank our lucky stars for having Messi in our club. The Argentinean star can’t possibly win every game single-handedly, but his brilliance has clearly hidden the many gaps in the team’s performance that poor transfer and institutional decisions have caused in recent years.