Barcelona suffered more European misery on Wednesday after going out of the Champions League at the group stage for the second season in a row and being beaten 3-0 by Bayern Munich.
Manager Xavi Hernandez made his frustrations clear after the final whistle but did still congratulate one of his players for their performance against the Bavarian giants at the Camp Nou.
Teenage left-back Alejandro Balde was given his first start in the Champions League by Xavi and was one of the few players to impress for Barca in another comprehensive defeat to Bayern.
The 19-year-old was congratulated by Xavi after the match and is now considered Barca’s first choice at left-back, ahead of Jordi Alba and Marcos Alonso, according to Javier Miguel at Diario AS.
Xavi felt Balde showed he was ready for the “most demanding games” with his performance at the Camp Nou and was particularly impressed with his speed, power and ability to dominate the left flank.
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Xavi Talks Barcelona Exit
Barcelona’s Champions League fate had already been sealed before kick-off at the Camp Nou. Inter’s win over Viktoria Plzen in the earlier kick off had secured second spot for the Nerazzurri and Xavi admitted it had affected his team’s showing, as reported by ESPN.
“We were not at Bayern’s level today. They were better. In Munich we were ourselves, but today they were better, intense. The elimination before the game affected us psychologically,” he said. “Now we train again tomorrow and think about LaLiga. There were a lot of expectations but we got a tough group. All sorts has happened to us in the group stage. It’s been cruel on us, but we did not compete well today.”
The club’s failure in the Champions League is a bitter blow, particularly after a summer of big spending and the arrival of players such as Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde, and Raphinha.
Barca’s exit will also hit the club financially. The Catalans are expected to miss out on around €20 million in prize money, although they could make some of that back if they do well in the Europa League.
Pedri Tells Barcelona How To Improve
The one bright spot for Xavi is the fact he has a host of talented youngsters in his squad alongside Balde. The presence of Pedri, Gavi, Kounde, Ronald Araujo, and Ansu Fati in the first-team squad suggests the club does have a bright future.
Pedri also spoke out after the match and told Barca where they must improve if they are to compete with teams such as Bayern Munich in the future, as reported by ESPN.
“We are a young team with a lot of room to improve. We have to improve a lot. We are not yet there to compete in the Champions League. It is really disappointing what’s happened today,” he said. “Seeing what we’ve seen, it’s clear we are not yet ready to compete [at the top level]. A lot is lacking. We need to be calmer on the ball, pick the right option… there is a lot to improve.”
Barca need to bounce back quickly from their latest disappointment and return to action on Saturday, October 29 in La Liga with a trip to Mestalla to take on Valencia.
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