First Season Failure!
As we approach the end of January in the opening season of this ambitious task, Barcelona sit 5 points behind league leaders Real Sociedad. Not an impossible task, but a difficult mountain to climb.
In the Champions League, the extreme challenge of Liverpool in the second round, following a double defeat to PSG in the group stage. Again, not impossible, but it would take a real miracle to get close to the final, let alone win the trophy.
For this first season, therefore, the best chance of silverware comes in the form of the Copa Del Rey. Every game needs to be treated as a final – we’re not in a position to rest players, this is a trophy that needs to be won.
The opening round was a simple one, besting second division Lugo 2-0, courtesy of two bizarre own goals. The next task though was more complex, away to Unai Emery’s Villareal.
In a crushing blow at this relatively early stage, penalties were our undoing.
Yes, the treble is off. Despite taking complete control of the game, we couldn’t quite grab that second goal in normal time to close the issue early – misses in the shootout from Fati and Messi himself meant we succumbed to a strong Villareal side.
Picking up the Pieces
Where do we go from here? Whilst it was always going to be difficult to win all three major trophies in the first season (considering the real team got no closer), it is still distressing to go out this early – and clearly shows the enormity of the task ahead in the summer.
I shall now play out the remainder of the season and report back. Hopefully some big sales, mixed with an expanded war chest will allow us to make some important signings in the summer, and make a real go of it next season.
With Mr Messi contracted until 2022, next season will likely be my last opportunity, whilst at Barcelona, to complete the treble.
A Trophy is a Trophy… Right?
Despite the tragedy of the Copa Del Rey, and the likely tragedy of both the Champions League and La Liga, there was a small, miniscule victory in the past few months.
A victory over Real Madrid is always good news, and in the final of the Spanish Super Cup it is very good news indeed. Having defeated Real Sociedad in the semi final, we defeated Zidane’s side 2-1, courtesy of two goals from the magician himself, Messi.
While the trophy is essentially meaningless, certainly in the context of our lofty ambitions, it represents that there is definite quality in this side – you don’t beat Madrid in a final without it. Perhaps we really are just a couple of truly world class signings away from the big trophies.
This, coupled with a strong victory over a resurgent Atletico Madrid in the league, and there are evident signs that this team can win the biggest prizes. Our biggest issue certainly seems to be a lack of bite in front of goal; replacing Griezmann is likely to be my first task in the summer.
So alas, this season has been a non-starter. We go again, as they say, and hopefully we can put ourselves in the strongest possible position to compete properly next year.