I watched with horror as FC Barcelona threw away everything they fought for last season within a week. But, for some reason, it was something I dreaded. Knowing how unpredictable football can get, one could never really say it is over until the final whistle has been blown.
A lot of factors contributed to the eventual implosion of the Catalan giants towards the end of last season. Here are some of the ones I can specifically point to right now that has to do with the actual football itself –
1) Sale of Luis Suarez to Atletico Madrid
At the beginning of the 2020/2021 season, Barca did the unexpected by selling Luis Suarez despite having no like for like alternative.
The Catalan club had earlier promised that they will undertake a massive overhaul to allow some of their senior players find new suitors. In a transfer summer that saw the sale of Rakitic, Semedo, Vidal and so many others, Barca also didn’t waste time to sell off Luis Suarez whom they deemed as surplus to requirements.
The transfer is bizarre but expected after rumor’s of his potential move to another club. In terms of football, the transfer didn’t make sense.
Admittedly, Suarez did miss clear cut chances, but he always compensated for it in one way or another. He is one of the players you can always count on to provide at least 20 goals per season and up to five (5) assists at least.
After being sold to Atletico Madrid, he will later help the team win La Liga with his goals. The funny thing about this is that it happened in 2012 too when the club sold David Villa to Atletico and he ended up winning the league title with them.
Suarez’s goals could have saved Barca severally in some critical matches, especially as Messi did most of the scoring for the club. In fact, Barca never really found a footing until Messi hit form and never looked back after a slow start to the season.
2) Home and away Loss to Real Madrid in El Clasico
I can’t remember the last time Real Madrid won Barca home and away in a particular La Liga season, not even in the 2019/2020 season that they were champions.
However, the Merengues totally owned Barca in the just concluded season, towering over them in the head to head ranking as a result.
You can’t expect to win your domestic championship if you can’t beat your top competitors even in your own home turf. This is sad because Real Madrid were not exceptional last season.
3) Loss to Granada
After months of toiling and earning deserved points on the road and at home, all hands were on deck cheering for Barca to finally crown their fantastic 2021 resurgence efforts by going atop the league in the match.
Due to their involvement in the Copa Del Rey, they had an outstanding match with Granada which was rescheduled for 29th April, 2021.
True to expectations, Lionel Messi opened scoring at the 23rd minute send FC Barcelona to the top of La Liga at Camp Nou. However, the second half of the game became a disaster of unimaginable quantification.
Granada equalized the game through D. Machis in the 63rd minute while J. Molina broke the heart of Barca faithful’s when he scored the winning goal of the match in the 79th minute. Everything else went South from there.
4) Inability to Win Atletico Madrid
Again, FC Barcelona failed to get one over Atletico Madrid both home and away.
Even at a point when it seemed like the club was on a resurgence, they simply flattered to deceive and fizzled out when the going got tough. All of a sudden, the players lost steam and didn’t have the teeth to bite hard anymore like they did on their way back to the top of the league standings.
When they eventually got the opportunity to climb sit at the number one spot, they refused and decided to share the points with Atletico at Camp Nou.
It was heartbreaking to say the least. Almost like everything they did during the season that landed them in that nice spot never mattered anymore. The team watched their efforts go down the drain within a few days and before you knew it, La Liga slipped through their finger’s and fizzled away.
5) Several Avoidable Losses and Draws
Barca continued to suffer several losses and unnecessary draws in the 2020/2021 season, especially before Ronald Koeman found his main punch key in the 5-3-2 formation set-up.
However, even the good strategy deployed under this formation soon became a victim of it’s own making. With players like De Jong, Busquets and Pedri starting almost every match as the engine of the midfield, they ran out of steam towards the tail end of the season and Barca suffered it.
Also, the inability of Barca’s defense to wade off attacks at the most critical stage in the season ensured that the teams efforts on the opponents box rarely counted for anything.
Therefore, Barca has to make it a top priority In the next campaign to have a solid defense that totally complements the attacking input of the team if they want to win anything next season.