Welcome back to TalkBarca. Our topic for today is FC Barcelona Champions League Roundup. We are going to discuss everything related to the Champions League competition of this season. We all know how much important this competition is for us. Barcelona badly needs to win the Champions League title not only for the fans, but also to reestablish its dominance in Europe. Honestly, I don’t think that teams view Barca as the same threat like years before. The reason for that is somewhere our bottled performances in the Champions League. Surely, this title is the most important for our club.
We are going to talk about if Barcelona is mentally strong enough or even ready for the Champions League matches ahead. We are also going to discuss our player options, and give you a deeper insight on everything related to this upcoming competition. Before I begin, I would clarify one thing. I sometimes emphasize too much on the CL tournament. I think that there might be some readers who must think that I only priorities CL for Barca to win, and not Liga. There is nothing like that. The reason I am always focusing on this format is our inconsistency.
Barcelona is dominating La Liga since like, forever. Barcelona is playing pretty well even in this season. We are facing many problems in the current season. Examples are, Defensive crisis, and even Managerial issues. It is quiet common for clubs to not deliver their best performance in the entire season if they change managers. However, this is not the case with Barcelona. We lost the previous El Classico, and also dropped points foolishly in a few games. However, Barcelona still manages to find a way to keep dominating La Liga, and stay at the top of the table. Impressive, right?
FC BARCELONA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ROUNDUP
SETIEN vs. VALVERDE
I would like to make a comparison between both managers now, and no, I am not talking about the stats, neither do I intend to count the number of trophies Barca won under either of them. We are talking about the mentality. I would say that Barcelona is mentally way better under Setien. However, my opinion is not enough to convince my readers, right? I need to back it up with facts, and I am going to do just that. This is a discussion which you do not want to miss for sure.
The fans were hoping for a big change when Quique Setien stepped in as Barcelona manager. We hoped that he is going to change our style of play, and he is going to provide us with positive mentality. Both if these things happened. Let’s consider the time Barcelona spent under Setien. It is only 12 games. 12 games are really not enough to judge any manager, isn’t it? Furthermore, we showed good performances in those games as well. It is true that we did not win all of the games, but winning streaks are really a difficult task to pull.
I said above that I donot care about the stats, and I don’t want to talk about how many games did we win or lose, or whatever. I just want to talk about the mindset, and the body language. Take a look at how Barcelona is playing under Setien. You are going to see a visible difference. Quique tried, and pretty much brought us back to the natural style of playing we are used to watching Barcelona play. This made the lives of players really easy, which is visible by their performances on the pitch. All our players elevated under him.
AWAY GAME AGAINST NAPOLI
Quique’s biggest mental achievement is also visible by our performance against Napoli in CL R16 First Leg. Barcelona travelled to Italy to face a really tough side of Napoli. We know that Napoli is never an easy team to play, especially at their home. They are experts when it comes to using home advantage, and it was obvious that life is going to be really difficult for the players during the game. Not to mention, it was. Barcelona was struggling despite having the possession. Napoli kept tight defense, and strictly marked Antoine Griezmann, and also Messi.
Furthermore, Napoli ended up scoring first. Do you remember how Mertens celebrated? I don’t know about the others, but that celebration was really offensive to me. That look on his face was as if the game was over. I am a huge believer that anything in football can change within a span of seconds, but for a moment, even I thought that it was curtains for our team. However, it did not happen. The odds were stacked up against us. Napoli was troubling us. They were playing in a complete different, and dominating style. Defense was tight. Guess what happened?
Our players did not lose focus. They kept their calm, and kept rotating the ball which they do best. Their composure level was not disturbed, and they played patiently. That patience was to find that one moment when Napoli players make one mistake. In the end, Napoli’s defense did end up leaving some space for Grizzy to make movement. It was Semedo’s brilliant physicality, and technical ability to play an accurate cutback to Griezmann who finished it first time in the back of the net. Barcelona equalized, and that look on Mertens or whoever from the Italian side was faded.
SETIEN vs. VALVERDE CONCLUSION
I hope this Napoli example was enough to convince you that indeed, Setien has brought better mentality in the club. Barca would have dropped back, and just defended if it was under Valverde. I am sure that it was going to be really tough for the players to keep their composure levels high. It would have resulted in conceding more goals, and confirmed knockout just after the first leg. I think that away performance was the toughest of the season. Our players showed that they might be mentally in the right zone to bring CL home.
There is one more thing I did not mention regarding the obstacles against us in that game. I only talked about composure, and maintaining focus. However, I did not talk about the injuries. Do you remember how many players were out on injuries during that game? Suarez, Dembele, Alba, and Roberto. These 4 are amongst the top players at the club. However, they were unavailable. This means that Setien also had really limited rotation options in the squad. Still, he capitalized what he had in a brilliant way. I enjoyed that game a lot, and I hope we keep progressing.
ARE WE GOOD ENOUGH TO WIN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE?
A lot of people might laugh at this question. However, majority of them are not analysts. They are just critics. I admit that Barcelona did not do great in the CL format in pervious couple seasons. However, every season is new, and nothing can be predicted. This is the beauty of the game. Nobody knows what is going to happen next in football. Who knew Leicester City is going to step up, and win the Premier League title? Who knew Barcelona is going to step up, and make that historic comeback against PSG?
I would have a different answer to this question if it was asked before the Corona Virus break. However, now my views, and thoughts about the Champions League are really different. I believe that this break has helped us a lot. I am not saying that this virus outspread is good thing, do not get me wrong. My point of view is that the isolation period helped to overcome many of our issues, and problems. Even Lionel Messi said that he feels perfect when it comes fitness. Take a look at Suarez as well. He is completely in shape!
The first advantage Barcelona is carrying to the CL is the Injury advantage. I mentioned above that Barcelona played the first leg against Napoli with 4 major injuries. I’ll repeat. These injuries were Dembele, Suarez, Roberto, and Alba. However, 3 out of those 4 players are fit now. They are ready to be back in to the squad, and start dominating. Every player in the world right now is hungry to step back on the pitch. Our Barcelona squad is no exception. Setien was struggling to complete the Match Day squad before the lockdown. However, things are different now.
Setien definitely has more options with him now, and some great options. Majority of these players are our regular A team starters, and it is not necessary to mention their footballing threat. Champions League is expected to return around August. Dembele is also considered to be fit by August. Hopefully, we’ll be able to use him as well. I believe that Dembele in proper fitness is huge threat on the wing. Personally, I am a huge fan of his talent, and technical ability. He is also regarded as one of the best dribblers, only when he is playing, of course.
This means that Barcelona can continue with its major, and experienced players. These are the players we look up to as fans. Furthermore, the addition of these players in the starting lineup is going to give a huge relaxation to Messi. We know that how well Messi, and Alba partner up. Players, and fans look up to only Messi when other experienced players are not around. However, fact is that this is going to remain happening no matter who is playing in the team. However, I think it is still a mental relaxation for Messi to play only his part.
I think that empty stadiums can also provide Barcelona with a good advantage. It is confirmed that all the Champions League games are going to be held behind closed doors. This can result into an advantage for FC Barcelona. However, there is an exception to it as well. That exception is Napoli. We all were heavily depending up on our home support for the game against Napoli. We were expecting a full house at the Camp Nou, and our fans to boost our morale while lower the others. However, this is not going to happen, and things are difficult.
We are also unlucky to play away first because Napoli played their home leg with the crowd support, and everything. The stadium was packed for the game, and that was also a disadvantage for us. So, Barcelona has to take on Napoli without a single fan, and play at a disadvantage even at their own home. It is going to be just like a normal training session for the players. The away pressure is mostly the crowd. However, there is no use of complaining, and it is time to focus. Setien, and co needs to play their cards right.
I think that if we win against Napoli, we are going to gain the advantage. You all know that Barcelona is struggling to play away for a long time. Tactical mistakes are there as well, but I have also noticed that our players sometimes panic because of the away crowd. All players do. Playing within boos, and negative chants is not a piece of cake. This is not going to happen now, considering the games are going to be played in completely closed doors. Barcelona can definitely take the advantage of zero crowd especially in the away games.
I think I have talked enough about the managers, and about our mentality stepping into the competition. It is really obvious that the players, manager, and the board staff knows about all of this as well. I just write what I want to discuss, and whatever is trending. Now, this is not the end of this article. I have actually, a lot more information lined up for you ahead. I just said that I want to talk about whatever is trending right? So, let’s talk about the latest Champions League format, some potential swap deals, and much more. Let’s start.
NEW CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FORMAT
It is reported that Champions League is going to begin by the month of August. Expected date of the return of this highly anticipated tournament is Saturday, August 8th. Furthermore, UEFA has decided to conclude the Champions League within the month of August as well. This means that the league resumes in August, and ends by the end of it. Moreover, UEFA also plans, and hopes to end all the other leagues such as Premier League, Serie A, La Liga etc, by the end of August as well. This means that all footballing action is within June, July, and August.
The new proposed Champions League format is really interesting. It is also really hectic as well for the players, obviously. The major thing in the new format is that there are going to be no 2 legged games from the Quarter Finals onwards. Yes, you read that right. No away leg, home leg scenario. There is going to be only one match played as Quarter, Semi, and Final. The result of those matches is going to determine who stays in the league, and who does not. This is actually an interesting change due to many reasons.
One legged games is going to challenge the players as well as the staff. There is going to be a totally different gameplay, and tactics for the games. It is going to be a now or never situation, and there is going to be no chance for error. Furthermore, the Semi Final, and Final are going to complete within a 4 day span. The final, and semifinal are going to be played at the same venue. That venue is in Turkey. We were expecting only the final to be played in that fixture, but the virus changed everyone’s plans.
MERIT AND DEMERIT OF ONE LEGGED GAMES
There is, obviously a bright, and not so bright side to playing only one game as knockout fixture. The demerit is something I already mentioned above. There are going to be no chances to make mistakes. A single mistake can mean that all the Champions League title dreams are over. Futhermore, you might not know that some team might even get lucky due to the one legged system. The main thing is that we have never seen something like this before, and it all is going to be really unpredictable for us to watch.
The first merit is about the fans. Fans are obviously going to enjoy the short time span in which all matches are going to held. We know that Champions League is a really patience demanding format for the fans. We wait for months to watch the next fixture or other legs of the format. This is excluding the group stage matches which happen almost weekly like league games. However, the real thrill of the CL is in its knockout stages when big teams collide against eachother.
Therefore, my point is pretty valid. Yes, it is selfish as well, but I am going to have fun watching every game, not gonna lie.
The second merit is that UEFA is really elevated the security of these players. I am never going to deny that I need to watch football badly on my screen, and I terribly miss it. However, the players are human beings as well, and they need to be just as secure from the virus. One legged games are going to mean that they have to travel less, than normal. Yes, they have to go to Turkey, but once they are there, the travel is going to stop.
There are a lot of rumors coming in on daily basis regarding transfers. We are going to keep you updated with those. However, now something even more trending is the Exchange Deal system. A lot of clubs are interested in exchanging their players now because the virus pandemic has effected economies worldwide. Furthermore, there is also something important I need to talk about buying players, and spending money in general. Firstly, the biggest rumor currently related to Barcelona is abour Pjanic coming in for Semedo. A lot of Barcelona players are mentioned who can potentially be swapped for different deals.
Umtiti is also being linked, and added to the players who can potentially be swapped. I just have one question over here. Why is Barcelona linking to De Sciglio? De Sciglio is a right back at Juventus. He really did not impress in the Italian league, neither is his previous club. So why do we want him? Why is it that I am watching links to him on a daily basis? Semedo is clearly far better right back than him, and this deal should never ever take place. Nothing is confirmed regarding Pjanic right now, so we have to wait.
This is perhaps the most important thing I want to highlight, and discuss right now. We are talking about players on daily basis coming to our club. We are hoping for Lautaro to come. Others are dreaming for Neymar’s potential return. However, it all is false. I don’t think any of this is going to happen. Buying new players in this window is going to difficult than ever. I’ll tell you why. The club is undergoing a serious financial drought. It is even hard to pay our current players their normal wages. Are you getting my point?
How can we buy new players when we can’t pay our own? It is also reported that Barcelona is going to face a loss of 150 million due to the pandemic. How can we expect newer players? How can Barcelona pay the 111 million release clause of Lautaro Martinez? It is time to realize the reality more than anything else. Our players have mutually agreed a 70% pay cut from their normal wage. This is insane! The club is so financially deprived that the players are given 70% less than their normal salaries. What on earth is going on at Barca?
Do you want to know what’s happening on the other side? Yes, players from Real Madrid have agreed to a pay cut as well. However, that pay cut is only 10-20%. Now imagine the difference between 10-20% pay cut, and 70%. We need to set things right for our club, and for that we need to quit dreaming. I don’t think that Barcelona is going to end up with 0 transfers. However, I am not really hopeful for big players, and big money deals. It is important to pay the players we already have in our squad first, then others.
Anyway guys, this is it from our side. It is been a while since I sat down, and wrote such a lengthy content. I am planning to do the same because of all the news, and the rumors flowing around. I hope you like what I wrote. Please, drop your feedback in the comments section below. Your feedback encourages me to write more, and better content for you.
Let me know what do you think about the managerial situation, as well as financial situation at Barca? Do you think Setien is helping the team? Can we win the CL this season? Let us know.
Until the next time guys, Visca El Barca!