On Saturday morning, one of the first messages I read was “Bayern 8 too much”. Then when I looked at Friday night’s game score, that message made lot of sense. Bayern had thumped Barcelona 8-2 and made to UEFA Champions League Semifinal. At quarter final stage of Europe’s premium football completion that score line is staggering. What makes that even more impressive is that achievement was against Barcelona side.
To be very honest, this Barcelona side is not one of the best. It has been on a downhill curve for last couple of years. Last season Barcelona threw away 4-0 lead in Semi Final return leg at Liverpool. Last time Barcelona won champions league was 6 years ago in 2014. Since their biggest rivals Real Madrid have won the tournament 3 consecutive times.
There are massive problems at the club. Pandemic has made things even worse due to impact to club’s finances. One of the biggest problem at club is a certain Leonel Messi. In recent years “Messi = Barcelona” and “Barcelona = Messi” equation has played out. But as a club Barcelona are suffering because of that. Messi has a player has overgrown Barcelona as institution. There is no doubt he is one the best players in the world. But Barcelona have neglected their unsung heroes i.e. midfield maestro of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. There retirement has overlapped with this struggle. Barcelona never managed to replace them in the engine room of their midfield and now they are getting punished.
To understand importance of midfield duo, we need to go back 8 years to summer of 2012. At Euro 2012 Fernando Torres won the Golden Boot. His goals played a very important part in Spains back to back Euro titles. Same Fernando Torres was struggling very badly at club level with Chelsea. On the other hand Messi who has scored amazing goals for Barcelona has always struggled while playing for his country. Messi who plays for Argentina and Messi who plays for Barcelona are completely different players.
If you put together these things, you’d not have to be a rocket scientist to understand importance of Xavi and Iniesta. They were heart and soul of that midfield that let Barcelona dominate the game and play wonderful brand of football. Till the time Barcelona hierarchy replaces the duo on pitch they are likely to struggle…