The Blaugrana are now bottom of their group and have failed to score in their opening two games while conceding six goals. It is a remarkable fall from grace for a club that won the Champions League just six years ago.
Barcelona and their disappointing start to the season went from bad to worse after a dismal 3-0 defeat to Benfica in the Champions League.
Barca boss Ronald Koeman looked lost on the bench. It is hard not to feel sorry for him. Especially, given much of the Catalan’s sides’ problems are not of his own making.
The defeat to Benfica means Barcelona are in real danger of not qualifying for the knockout stages of Europe’s premier club competition for the first time in 21 years. They are already four points behind Benfica in second place.
The defeat in Lisbon signalled a new low for the club. They managed just one shot on target and were too easy to play against. A moment that encapsulates how far Barca has fallen is the sight of Luuk de Jong missing a great opportunity to equalise.
However, considering Barcelona once had a front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez, it shows how far the quality has dropped due to their financial mismanagement off the park.
It has been a particular galling week for Barcelona fans. This was further compounded when they saw Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and their greatest ever player, Lionel Messi, score in the Champions League for Atlético Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain respectively.
The squad is lacking in quality and depth. Largely thanks to the mountain of mistakes on and off the park by the previous President Josep Maria Bartomeu. It feels that Barcelona’s fans are going to have to accept that things could get worse before they get better.
It seems like it is just a matter of time before Ronald Koeman is sacked as Barcelona manager. His future was in doubt before the Benfica game. The result and performance against the Portuguese side won’t have done him any favours.
Xavi, Roberto Martinez, and Ajax boss Erik ten Hag have all been linked to the job. To be fair to Koeman, he has been dealt an impossible hand. It wasn’t his fault that Barca had to get rid of their greatest ever player. It wasn’t his fault that Barca are in a financial armageddon.
He doesn’t have the money to spend to improve the squad. Instead of having to rely on free transfers and young players, some of whom aren’t ready to play at this level. Koeman has been unfortunate with injuries with striker Sergio Aguero still yet to make his debut for the five-time European champions.
If they can somehow sort out their financial situation and supplement the young players with proven quality and experience, it will help them get back to the top. That will be easier said than done.
Especially, since it was announced that their La Liga salary cap allocation is just £85 million. In comparison, Real Madrid’s is an incredible £638 million. This disparity just emphasises how badly run the club has been in recent years.
It is going to be a long painful process for Barcelona fans as they seek a return to the top of Spain and Europe. The Barca fans have been used to success in recent years. They have won six of the last 11 La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues in the last decade. However, no matter if Koeman is replaced, the fans will have to be patient and it will be a process that will take time.
The next few weeks will be pivotal to what kind of season Barcelona will have. Their next four games include clashes against Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Dynamo Kiev, and the first El Clasico of the season against Real Madrid. It is a period that will either make or break their season.