Thursday April 29. FC Barcelona welcome Granada to Camp Nou in a more important match for the title race. After an almost perfect second part of the season, with this elimination against PSG and this Clasico lost as the only tasks on the table, the Catalans have the opportunity to take the lead in the championship. A victory against Andalusians who do not have much to play would allow Ronald Koeman’s troops to become leader, but not only. Three points which would also ensure the Catalans to depend only on themselves to seize the national title. Only … there was defeat, 2-1. The beginning of the end, in a way, since even if the chances of coronation had not evaporated so far, the following weeks were just as bad.
There was this 3-2 victory over Valencia, as the two Madrid clubs also won their meeting over the weekend, but then the Barcelona were unable to take advantage of this decisive match against Atlético (0-0) nor Real Madrid’s draw against Sevilla (2-2) on the same weekend of the 35th day to strike a blow. Behind, a new draw against Levante (3-3), then a defeat against Celta (2-1), while the two formations of the capital ensured with two victories. An unexpected fall, which raises several questions and which will in any case visibly seal the future of Ronald Koeman on the Camp Nou sidelines. But above all, how to explain this fall not necessarily expected?
Players singled out
Well the physical side is one of the first explanations to advance. Some players have shown obvious signs of fatigue in recent weeks of competition, such as Pedri in midfield. In this sense, the management of Ronald Koeman, little supporter of rotations, has been criticized. Just like his difficulty in reacting and shaking things up during the match, with late and / or questionable changes that often do not bring the hoped-for second wind to the team. The lack of opportunities granted to some players like Riqui Puig or Francisco Trincao is also talking about Barcelona. Then come other parameters, more structural one could say, and consequence of the harmful legacy left by the direction of Josep Maria Bartomeu. It is obvious that the lack of a real number 9 – at a time when Karim Benzema and Luis Suarez are bringing points to the two rivals – is being felt.
The defensive sector is also considered the weak point of the team, and this while the passage to 3-5-2 had made it possible to fill the gaps and deficiencies for a time. Concerns from an individual point of view too, like Gerard Piqué, who is probably the biggest loser at the end of the season. After his long absence following his knee injury, the Catalan defender has chained the very mediocre performances, so much so that many in Catalonia believe that he should not have regained his starting place. Marc-André ter Stegen, Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto or Miralem Pjanic are also, to lesser and different degrees, targets of criticism. Suffice to say that there may be a lot of movement in Barcelona during the summer transfer window …