FC Barcelona’s Return To The Top Will Happen Much Sooner Than Expected

FC Barcelona fans have spent the last couple of years staring into the abyss.

Certain to suffer a full three seasons without the La Liga title come May, there have also been four different coaches in that time as the club has slid into financial ruin exceeding $1bn and seen its greatest ever player, Lionel Messi, walk on a free to a continental rival in Paris Saint Germain.

Dismantlings by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, which were pivotal in sentencing the Blaugrana to Europa League football, and Real Madrid in El Clasico helped highlight the gulf in quality and class between themselves and top European sides.

But based on yesterday’s showing in the Spanish Supercup semi-final in Saudi Arabia, we saw that maybe the revolution under Xavi Hernandez, and a comeback that will once again have the Catalans standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the behemoths, is much closer to fruition than previously expected.

Of course the 3-2 loss to Los Blancos in El Clasico ended one of few realistic chances of silverware this campaign and hurts.

But Carlo Ancelotti’s men put out their best side almost identical to that which outclassed Barca at Camp Nou in October, and they were for the most part evenly matched by a rag tag outfit full of youngsters and recent injury and covid sufferers who fought to the death from the beginning through two periods of extra time.

Even the players are starting to believe that the end to the misery is nigh.

“We’re growing. You can see the fruit of our work. A month ago it seemed a long way away, but now it’s close. We can fight against any team,” said defender Ronald Araujo post-match, while asking us to imagine what some of the less experienced players could look like after “60 or 70” games in La Liga, in comments that echoed those of the always brutally-honest Gerard Pique.

“If we talk about today, we are close. In the league we are 17 points behind. Today we competed. If we flip a coin and Barca go through, nothing happens,” stressed Xavi.  “Barca also deserved to go through to the final. We are on the right track,” he claimed.

And it is difficult to argue with that. If his charges can stay fit and build some cohesion, while improvements are made in the transfer market at left and right back, this squad can compete whereas before it was thought that such a prospect might take anything up to half a decade such are the cycles of football and the seriousness of Barca’s predicament.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomsanderson/2022/01/13/fc-barcelonas-return-to-the-top-will-happen-much-sooner-than-expected/