The tense countenance of Lionel Messi during the ninety minutes of the Osasuna-Barca game steered up assumptions. The captain's displeasure reflected his disenchantment after the worst championship in more than a decade.
The match and the final result (1-2) summed up all the team's woes during the 2019-20 League, becoming a live diagnosis of the problems that dragged Ernesto Valverde down and keep Quique Setien on the edge of the precipice.
These are 10 reasons that marked Barca negatively in the 2019/20 League and that has prevented them from regaining the title.
1. POOR PLANNING FOR THE SEASON
The 2019-20 season got off to a flying start with the Liverpool debacle. Barça was already showing signs of wear and tear as the basis of the project remains the 2014-15 treble. After the ridicule of Anfield, the team did not raise the head in the Cup - a defeat against Valencia - but Josep Maria Bartomeu decided to maintain Valverde and to give continuity to the project, although it was evident that the credit of the Txingurri in the offices was limited, unlike the wardrobe.
The critical point arrived in winter, with the exits of footballers yielded and even transferred (Wague, Todibo, Carles Perez) coinciding with a rosary of new injuries (Luis Suárez, Ousmane Dembélé, Samuel Umtiti...) that forced to recruit Martin Braithwaite out of the market and by the route of urgency.
2. THE TRANSFERS DID NOT TAKE PLACE IN THE TEAM
Four signings arrived, one per line (Neto, Firpo, De Jong and Griezmann) to complete an enviable squad. The goalkeeper injured his hand on arrival and was never in competition with Ter Stegen. Junior, still green, was hardly a relief for Alba as Valverde turned to Semedo to cover the absences of Jordi, who has been irreplaceable for Setien.
Frenkie De Jong never played in his ideal position or offered his version of Ajax, and in the decisive straight he was injured. And Griezmann broke when it seemed that he was finally accepted as part of the trident, albeit after atoning for his sins on the sidelines first and living on the bench for some of the most important matches when Quique questioned his status.
3. TRANSFERs THAT ARE A HEADACHE
First, it was Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal. Then, Arthur Melo. Barca decided to dispense with them for sporting and/or economic reasons, but was unable to find a mutually beneficial solution and remained in the squad. The Croatian and the Chilean took their loss of prominence badly.
In the case of Arturo, the situation was reverted, paradoxically, with Setién, on the paper a technician more in favour of the positional game and of touch that Valverde.
He was taken over by Arthur, who had been handed over weeks ago and had not had a single minute since then. The opposite case of Miralem Pjanic, the other part of the 'barter' and still playing at Juventus.
4. AN AGING ELEVEN AND STAFF
When not curdling the signings of this season nor many of the immediately previous (Malcom, Coutinho or Dembélé, for not going back more behind) the technicians were forced to continue betting by the winning spine in the Champions of Berlin 2015.
Without a doubt, an excellent generation, but that since then they accumulate five years more in their legs. Eight of the squad members are between 30 and 33 years old and, more importantly, six are undisputed first-teamers.
5. THE RESIDUAL IMPACT OF THE QUARRY
Ernesto Valverde was reproached during his three years at Camp Nou for not looking at the branch, and Quique Setién has not reversed the situation either. True; to the Txingurri it is necessary to concede that it gave birth to Ansu Fati, and to Quique to have given parties to Riqui Puig and to prove Araújo.
But Carles Perez left the club in winter after pulling the plugin September and symbolizes like few others the residual role of the quarry in recent years.
6. THE CHANGEOVER ON THE BENCH DID NOT CHANGE THE DYNAMICS
Despite Valverde's approval of the dressing room almost to the end, or Setién's failure to connect with the heavyweights - or the media - the changeover on the bench did not have the expected effect.
Quique, a self-confessed Cruyffista, did not recover his style. What is more, Barça's game has been less and less recognisable and more grey, unable to impose itself on its equals (Real Madrid, Atletico) and, in the end, on the underdogs (Osasuna).
7. THE TEAM RETURNED WEAKER AFTER THE PANDEMIC
Some teams came back from the standstill motivated by the pandemic connected - Real Madrid, Atlético, Villarreal, Granada... - and others do not raise their heads, like Real Sociedad.
Confinement did not sit well with Barça either (6 wins, 3 draws, 1 defeat). It almost always seemed fair of energy and freshness. To make matters worse, injuries decimated the squad. The only positive note was the return of Luis Suarez.
8. MARC TER STEGEN AND LEO MESSI WERE NOT ENOUGH
The German goalkeeper has had an extraordinary season although his statistics (36 goals conceded in 36 league games, 14 steel goals) are lower than in previous years. Messi is still Messi (Pichichi with 23 goals and maximum assistant with 20 assists). But in too many days they were principle and end of the Barca, with little support between both goals. Insufficient to renew the title.
9. A FRAGILE TEAM FAR FROM CAMP NOU
One of the factors of uncompetitive equipment is its voltage drops in the opposite field. The Barça, in the absence of the match of Mendizorroza, has added 50 points in the Estadi and 29 outside. In 2018-19 they got 48 in the Camp Nou and 39 as a visitor.
10. FEWER POINTS SINCE THE LEAGUE 2007-08
If they beat Alaves in the final session, Barca will reach 82 points, the lowest figure since Frank Rijkaard's last season: 67 points (third place). The season ended without a title.
In the current season, Valverde scored 40 points from 19 rounds of the first round; Setién has 39 points so far and could go as high as 42.
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