The tragedy is complete as Barcelona are out of the Champions League in the group stage for the second consecutive year and will have to play in the Europa League.
There was no miracle. Although some within the club still had hope of qualifying, they said it more out of desire than reality.
Inter didn’t slip, easily beating Viktoria Plzen, the worst team in the group, who came to the Giuseppe Meazza with four defeats and a record of three goals scored and 16 conceded.
They did it quickly, leading 2-0 by halftime before adding another two after the restart.
Last season’s disappointment could have been foreseen given the state of the team, but it wasn’t in the script this year.
The Blaugrana board signed several top players such as Lewandowski, Raphinha, Kounde, Christensen, Marcos Alonso, Kessie and Bellerín.
To do so, they spent more than 150 million euros and put together a competitive team ready to fight for all titles, something that all fans thought was possible after the team’s start.
A merciless draw
What’s the cause of this new setback? There are several factors. There is no single reason, but the reality is that Barcelona weren’t up to the Champions League and are now out.
First of all, the draw was not kind to them. They were placed in the most difficult group. Opinions aside, it’s the only one that featured three European champions.
Bayern is one of the favorites to win the competition and Inter was the toughest opponent in the third pot.
Team in the making
It’s been shown that the team is not yet up to the level of the best in Europe, no matter how much things clicked in the first few weeks.
It’s still a formative phase given the seven signings mentioned above. They lacked the killer instinct to strike in the match against Bayern in Munich.
They could have scored in the first half, but some unbelievable mistakes allowed the Bavarians to go ahead in the second half. First three points thrown away.
With that result and Bayern‘s win over Inter, second place was virtually a straight knockout tie in the two matches against the Italians.
There were two factors here. Firstly, a bad refereeing performance in Milan that clearly hurt Barcelona. It isn’t an excuse, but it did play a role.
More concerning was the match in which Barcelona had everything at stake. It was in that match that they really blew their chances of qualifying.
The defensive errors were unbecoming of a team that wants to be in the final rounds of the Champions League.
There were individual mistakes in all the goals, and Barcelona squandered the advantage they had with Dembele’s opening goal.
Injuries at the back
The injury woes cannot be ignored. Xavi was without Kounde, Araujo, Christensen and Bellerin for the matches against Inter. Too many absentees for two important matches.
And they were decisive because of what we saw at the Camp Nou against the Italians. Without so many absentees, they certainly wouldn’t have made so many mistakes.
The result of all these factors is that Barcelona is out of the Champions League. A hard blow for a team that wanted to rise from the ashes this season, however, every year things seem to get worse.
Since their elimination in the semifinals against Liverpool in 2018/2019, the results are as follows: they lost in the quarter finals to Bayern (2019/2020), in the round of 16 against PSG (2020/2021) and the past two years in the group stage. This season with two games left to play.
An elimination that is hard on a sporting level, but also on an economic level. Barcelona had budgeted to reach the quarter-finals in the Champions League, so they will lose out on 20.6 million euro son the balance sheet, though they will get some of that back in the Europa League.
The problem is that two years of being left out of the Champions League knockout rounds makes it hard for sponsors to believe in the Blaugrana
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