History knows a lot cases when the top clubs that dominated the European arena inevitably went through a stage of stagnation and regression. Not everyone managed to get through the crisis times, retaining the status of a top club and later returning to their former positions. Many clubs that declassified their rivals in the 20th century do not even advance to the first divisions of their countries. There are enough examples of falling from the football Olympus in the current century. You don’t have to go far for an example – Arsenal, Milan and Manchester United represent now only pale shadows of themselves from the best times. I don’t want to put forward the theory that red on the uniform is a curse, but the list nostalgic about the former greatness of red-blacks and red-whites are in danger of being replenished with one once formidable blue-red, or rather blue-garnet team.
This, of course, is not about CSKA. The greatness of Barcelona, which terrified rivals at the end of the previous decade, is fading away with the era of Spanish football dominance. After the victory in the 2014-2015 Champions League, which even then a number of experts called random and situational, it became more difficult to mask the exponentially growing problems every year. The stagnation period was relatively short, and the regression period was quick and painful for both fans and players alike. 4-0 and 8-2 will not be forgotten any time soon.
There is a bright spot in this almost Shakespearean tragedy. The unheard-of humiliation was the catalyst for the restructuring of the team, as a result of which the club is now in a state of incessant turbulence, which risks turning into the most unpredictable results. Nevertheless, certain predictions can be made now.
Those who have watched the film “The Hunt” will perfectly remember the moment when unarmed and demoralized people rushed about randomly under fire, not even trying to somehow coordinate their actions. This kind of association arises at the sight of Barcelona’s game. The names of individual players, no matter how high-class they are, no longer play any role in the current situation. The lack of teamwork and the need to strengthen problematic positions, from which the game of blue garnet suffers more than the world economy from the coronavirus, comes to the fore.
Globally, all lines of the game, except for the goalkeeper’s, require an immediate and radical update. The problem lies in the incompatibility of rational ideas on the homologation of the roster with the inadequate transfer policy of the management. Having received a fabulous sum for Neymar, the club’s board demonstrated a total inability to handle big money, which was vividly confirmed by the cases of Dembele and Griezmann. Can you remember at least one successful transfer of Barça in the post-Neymar era? So we can’t.
A series of unsuccessful transfers is accompanied by a leapfrog on the coach’s bridge. After Enrique, every appointment arose logical and not the most pleasant questions. Naturally, Ronald Koeman, who had experience of playing in Barcelona, was no exception. His support for management’s policy of rejuvenating the squad is logical, and his plan as a coach is unclear. Two details are clear – first, the nascent concept will be shaped with a foundation of young players. Secondly, some of the achievements of previous coaches will also not be discounted, as indicated by the use of Messi as a “false nine” in the first matches of the season. In the performance of the Argentine genius, this was observed under Vilanova and Martino, before signing of Suarez. At the same time, 4-2-3-1 against strong opponents transforms into 4-4-2 with high pressure. The idea is trendy and smart, the only question is whether Koeman can adapt it as a team.
In these constructions, Griezmann is assigned the role of a central striker, as the Dutch coach said in one of his first interviews. Nevertheless, in the first 5 matches of the season, the Frenchman looks more like a confused Travolta than a 120 millionth player. There is a strong feeling that he still has not found his game in Barcelona, despite his hard work and ability to work for the team. Griezmann looks lost on the field, as is the whole of today’s Barcelona, with a lack of passing culture, failures in defense and poor physical preparation.
Nevertheless, even in the midst of the crisis, Barcelona was able to nurture and develop a galaxy of talented, able, if not to patch all the holes of the Catalan battleship, then at least delay its final collapse. That there is only one Ansu Fati. The speedy, technical 17-year-old striker, already dubbed Messi’s heir, is breaking record after record for performance at such a young age. He even scored against Real Madrid. It is symbolic against the background of Messi’s 6-match goalless series in Classico. It’s too early to say whether he will become the main star of the future Barcelona, as well as early to put him on the podium now, but the sosos breathed a sigh of relief when the management refused to sell Fati to Manchester United for 120 million – such a deal would be the final verdict for Bartomeu.
In the young backbone of Barcelona, not only Fati stands out – the flirting in the main lineup of Pedri, Trincao, Desta and de Jong inspires timid optimism and allows us to say that Koeman is moving in the right direction. Regardless of the results of his coaching career, he will leave a certain foundation in Barça, on which those who will replace him, including in the leadership, will be guided. Restructuring is a painstaking process, sometimes leading to collapse altogether, so you should not expect instant results from Kuman. At the moment, the most likely is the second consecutive trophy-free season of the Catalans, or the Spanish Cup / La Liga as a maximum.
Not everyone adequately perceives the end of their “beautiful era”. Someone is nostalgic for the greatness of the past, someone is driven into depression by the devastating defeat that marked this end. In the song of the Swedish power metal band “Sabaton” there is a line “Our greatness is over”, dedicated to the collapse of Sweden as an empire and the Scandinavian hegemon. The longstanding hegemony of Barcelona as a leading force in European and world football is over, and now there is a long and hard work ahead. Sweden has failed to regain its former greatness. Whether the Catalan club will manage is an open question. On the Parimatch blog, you can read interesting articles like this one – https://parimatch.co.tz/blog/sw/parimatch-jinsi-ya-kuweka-fedha-kwa-mara-ya-kwanza-kwenye-tovuti-ya-kubashiri-mtandaoni-tanzania/ , to learn more about the world of sports and betting.