Barcelona search for answers as Lisbon rout begs questions about Setien, Messi and a Camp Nou crisis

By John Skilbeck 15 August 2020 7
Barcelona search for answers as Lisbon rout begs questions about Setien, Messi and a Camp Nou crisis

It was the darkest of nights for Barcelona in Lisbon's Stadium of Light.

How wonderfully merciless Bayern Munich were, as indulgent in their fondness for goals and insatiable in their will to humiliate the opposition as that great Germany side that humbled Brazil 7-1 at the 2014 World Cup.

But for Barcelona, the shame, the recklessness of it, the lack of spine. These footballing invertebrates will return to Catalonia not to fanfare but in disgrace.

They were possibly due a comeuppance, and here it was writ large.

"A humiliation for history" said the Spanish newspaper Marca on its website at full-time. The Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo said it was an "historic debacle".

That scoreline. 8-2. Eight-two. Barcelona shipped eight goals. Everywhere you looked, history was mentioned.

This team surely is history, and as for the coach... Quique Setien must know what comes next.

You needed no hyperbole on this evening. Barcelona were atrocious and the scoreline perfectly reflected that. Bayern were not flattered by eight.

So if Barcelona's great rivals Real Madrid were hurting after defeat to Manchester City, how that must have suddenly eased.

No wonder defender Gerard Pique said he and every Barcelona player felt "pain". No wonder he suggested "changes" are required.

What changes though? Not for the first time on Friday evening, Pique couldn't find a substantial answer.

He was right though: it was "shameful" and Barcelona do need "changes at all levels", as he told Movistar, albeit without explicitly suggesting just who should be changed.

Sacking Setien seems inevitable but may solve very little, and it feels harsh to make him the scapegoat for this implosion.

In seven months at Camp Nou, the 61-year-old former Real Betis boss has seen Barcelona's players frequently let the club down, and any incoming coach may do well to sound him out on their first day.

The club have a €671million sport salary limit. Never mind 'Mes que un club', that's 'Mes que the GDP of Tonga', among other nations, and Barcelona are frittering it away. Antoine Griezmann apparently played the second half of this game.

Al-Sadd head coach Xavi has been dropping none-too-subtle hints that he might be ready for the Barcelona hotseat, but it will take more than a big name, albeit of a man steeped in Blaugrana tradition, to transform this creaking club.

Presidential elections are coming next year, but can Barcelona totter on until then in this state.

Josep Maria Bartomeu, the incumbent president, has warned that Barcelona stand to see their income drop by hundreds of millions due to the pandemic, so if money cannot be the answer this time, what can?

The way Barcelona let a so-so Real Madrid side sprint by them to take the LaLiga title once lockdown ended was worrying enough, but everywhere you look there are mistakes being made.

Even Marc-Andre ter Stegen, their often impressive goalkeeper, was a calamity against Bayern.

Ter Stegen might have recently had his eye on Manuel Neuer's number one jersey for Germany, but as an audition this display was equivalent to him slurring his words and falling off stage.

And as for Lionel Messi, well goodness knows. The man on whom Barcelona's every hope so often hinges looked more fed up than ever before as the goals flooded in.

Suddenly, those flights to Milan out of Lisbon might look infinitely more appealing to the little Argentinian than the team plane back to Barcelona.

And if Barcelona are to learn to stand on their own two feet again, rather than continue to lean on the man from Rosario for balance, perhaps that Inter move might not be the worst idea after all.

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John Skilbeck

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