Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 30 September 2020

Barcelona humiliation: What has gone wrong with the Spanish giants?

The club face some major work to rebuild after Champions League nightmare

Barcelona's record 8-2 European defeat by Bayern Munich has exposed serious cracks in the Catalan giants.

It was the worst defeat in their European history, and casts doubts over the future of their talisman Lionel Messi.

Former Manchester United and England star Rio Ferdinand believes Messi might be tempted to move on in the twilight of his career after a season without a major trophy.

"What is Messi thinking going home tonight?" Ferdinand said on BT Sport.

"Does he want to spend his time left in that shirt given the performances and the way the squad is looking at the moment in comparison to other teams around Europe.

"Has he got the time to sit there and wait? Football is a game that comes and goes very quickly in your life so these next two years where he's still going to have the power to influence games the way he does, is he going to want to be doing that but not competing for the big titles?"

So what has gone wrong at Barcelona?

Super expensive and ineffective recruitment

LISBON, PORTUGAL - AUGUST 14: Philippe Coutinho of FC Bayern Munich celebrates with teammates following their team's victory in the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on August 14, 2020 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Manu Fernandez/Pool via Getty Images)
Philippe Coutinho celebrates with his Bayern Munich teammates following their win over Barcelona, the club that owns him. He scored twice. Getty

Barcelona spent more than £350million (Dh1682m) on three players, two of whom started from the bench on Friday - with the other scoring twice for Bayern. That £105million record signing Philippe Coutinho could be out on loan at all speaks volumes for Barcelona's rudderless recruitment.

That the Brazil playmaker could climb off the Bayern bench and score twice against his parent club underscores major issues behind the Barca scenes. Antoine Griezmann came off the bench at half-time for Barcelona, but the France forward has been unable to find his niche with the Catalans. Ousmane Dembele was back on the bench after nine months of injuries, but remained unused.

Wasting Lionel Messi's talent

epa08604466 FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi shows his dejection at the end of the UEFA Champions League quarter final soccer match FC Barcelona vs Bayern Munich held at Luz Stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, 14 August 2020. EPA/TIAGO PETINGA
Lionel Messi shows his dejection at the end of the thrashing by Bayern Munich. EPA

Argentina forward Messi has long since etched his name into every all-time football annal going, and yet Barcelona are now wasting his generational talent.

It is five years since Barca and Messi last won the Champions League and, at 33, the diminutive star could now genuinely consider his future at the club. Barcelona have failed to provide Messi with the support sufficient for him to continue to dazzle defences - but the Catalans have also dipped into far too great a deferential stance with him too.

Boss Quique Setien and midfielder Arturo Vidal insisted before the Bayern match that Messi remains the world's best, despite Bayern's Robert Lewandowski firing 53 goals in a stunning campaign.

For this season at least it is clear Lewandowski has outperformed Messi. But no one at Barcelona is able to say that without causing too great a stir. Not provided with the tools for enough power on the pitch then, but with too much power off it, Barca have paid the price for mishandling one of the game's very best.

Managerial mishaps

Soccer Football - Champions League - Quarter Final - FC Barcelona v Bayern Munich - Estadio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal - August 14, 2020 Barcelona coach Quique Setien, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/Pool
Barcelona coach Quique Setien watches the 8-2 defeat in Lisbon. Reuters

Quique Setien's tenure outlines Barcelona's boardroom problems and shows the need for a much clearer overall vision.

The former Real Betis boss only succeeded Ernesto Valverde in January, but his position is now hanging by a thread just seven months later after the humiliating hammering by Bayern.

Valverde mustered three years before Setien, but only four trophies and none of them European. For Barca there will never be another Pep Guardiola, and there are only so many former playing stars with the pedigree to take the managerial reins. Whoever takes control next will require far greater boardroom support to succeed.

Updated: August 15, 2020 04:30 PM

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