Sunday, October 1, 2023

Eight years of dry spell in the Champions League with historic setbacks

New European season and new hopes. This is what is happening at Can Barça, where there is particular tension in the current Champions League season. After eight failed seasons in continental competition, there is an air of hope and freshness in this edition. “The Champions League is very important this season. It will make us grow as a team and as a club. “We have the team and the confidence to face it,” said Xavi in ​​the press conference after the Betis game. And far from the great Blaugrana team, the players have gained experience in big games after a series of traumatic experiences, which can mean a before and after. Likewise, the mix of experience and youth can be one of the keys to competing again and being one of the main contenders for the European Cup. The minimum goal is to return to the quarterfinals, a stage that Barça has not reached since 2020, when Bayern overwhelmed the culé team.

After reaching heaven in Berlin with Luis Enrique at the helm, Barça met Atlético de Madrid in 2016. The Madrid team, finalist of this edition, won with an aggregate score of 3-2 in the quarterfinals and the culés realized their dream. It was frustrating to be the first team able to win two Champions League titles in a row . It was precisely this year that Zidane’s Real Madrid’s European triennium began. The 2017 edition is one of the most remembered by Barcelona fans. After the 4-0 defeat against PSG in the first leg of the round of 16, the biggest comeback in the club’s and competition’s history occurred. The 6:1. However, the euphoria was short-lived and the team lost to Juventus in the quarterfinals. Back then, Luis Enrique’s men failed to overcome the 3-0 deficit in the first leg. In 2018, a dynamic of overcoming loose results began, which led to a complex situation for a large proportion of players. After beating Roma 4-1 in the quarter-final first leg, Barça lost the second leg 3-0 and was eliminated from the European Cup. In 2019, history repeated itself, albeit in the semi-finals and in a more traumatic way. Valverde’s men beat Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg and were ahead in the Wanda final, but the Culés showed no understanding at Anfield and lost 4-0. The nightmare seemed to have no end.

The pandemic came and brought football to a standstill. The format of the 2020 Champions League was different. A kind of single-game playoff in Lisbon. Barça reached rock bottom against Bayern in the quarterfinals. They lost 2:8 and it didn’t stay that way. Messi asked to leave and an institutional crisis began that ended with Bartomeu. In 2021 they failed in the round of 16 against PSG with an aggregate score of 5-2. With an outstanding Mbappe, the Parisians won 1-4 at the Camp Nou and rubbed salt in the Blaugrana’s wound. The next two seasons, 2021 and 2022, were modeled at a continental level. When it seemed impossible to get any worse, two poor draws in the group stage and poor performances on the pitch condemned Barça to the Europa League, where they lost to Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarter-finals and Manchester United in the round of 32, respectively.

What happened to Barça and the Champions League in recent seasons was practically a tragicomedy. The last time the Blaugranas lifted the “Orejona” dates back to 2015. This very trophy was lifted by Xavi. It has rained since then. Only Ter Stegen and Sergi Roberto remain from this squad. Apart from the last two, Lewandowski, Marcos Alonso, Christensen and Gündogan, who won exactly the last edition, also won. João Cancelo is also on the list, even though he has only played half a season at City. Many of the veterans know what it means to win in Europe and, combined with the enthusiasm of a group of young people ready to take Barça back to the top, it creates the perfect formula. We will see if the Catalan team manages to get through more than one round in the top continental competition this year, and who knows if they will win.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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