Barcelona Falling into Another Crisis After Girona Defeat

Barcelona has fallen into another crisis again following their unexpected defeat last weekend versus Girona.

8 Min Read
xavi hernandez

Barcelona has fallen into another crisis again following their unexpected defeat last weekend versus Girona.

Blaugrana’s season has been over, and they are set to have a trophyless one. Their quarter-final exit in the Champions League, despite having an away win advantage against PSG, confirmed their disappointing season. However, the club has agreed to continue with Xavi for one more year to see off his contract in 2025 after he met with the management and the club president, Joan Laporta, a few weeks ago.

The team’s form soon changed following the U-turn decision with Xavi, who had stated that he would leave the Catalan giant at the end of the season. Robert Lewandowski and Co. clinched a 4-2 win over Valencia on their home turf. The Polish forward became the protagonist as he scored a hattrick, which helped his team bounce back from a 1-2 loss before the interval.

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Unfortunately, such confidence did not last long. Their 4-2 defeat while visiting Girona’s home base cost them their position on the table. Xavi’s men slipped to third, which could put an end to their agreement for his job’s future next season. The former midfielder could still be shown the door, should he fail to guide his team back to second place. Moreover, Blaugrana already had a name in place for taking the reins. He is none other than Xavi’s former teammate and the current Barcelona B boss, Rafael Marquez.

Finishing Third or below means Failure

As one of the giants in La Liga, finishing their campaign on a high note is always expected. Thus, huge pressure to stay in the top two in the final standings is only natural. It would be much better if they could topple their eternal nemesis, Real Madrid. Only finishing second is considered tolerable for the managers to avoid sacking.

Throughout history, Blaugrana managers who could only lead their team to finish third or below at the end of the campaign most likely will not continue their role in the following season. Since 1980, the Catalan giant has finished third or below 11 times. Two of them, the 1982/83 and 2000/01 seasons, were the times when they were going through a transition with managerial changes in the middle of the campaign. Consequently, they only sat fourth in both seasons. Cesar Menotti was named Barcelona boss in March 1983 to save their dismal campaign under Udo Lattek. Meanwhile, in 2000/01, Carles Rexach took charge of the Catalan side in April 2001 after Lorenzo Serra Ferrer was dismissed.

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Unfortunately, both Menotti and Rexach could not improve their team’s form in their first full season. They only brought them to finish third and fourth in 1983/84 and 2001/02, respectively. Their successors also experienced a similar fate when their team did not finish strong. Luis Aragones was shown the door in the summer of 1988; Radomir Antic was replaced in 2003; and Frank Rijkaard failed to keep his post in 2008.

Only two figures were ruled out of instant dismissal despite finishing third. They were the legendary Johan Cruyff and his former player, Ronald Koeman. Cruyff did not lead them to finish second three times: in 1989/1990, 1994/95, and 1995/96. Blaugrana, whereas Koeman failed to bring Leo Messi’s Barcelona to finish higher than third place in 2000/21. Cruyff was only sacked in 1996 after Pep Guardiola and Co. went trophyless for two consecutive seasons. Koeman, on the other hand, could not impress the fans and management. He was dismissed in October 2021.

The Squad Overhaul

The squad overhaul is likely to be Barcelona’s main priority for next season if they only sit third. They are considering selling their key figures, from Ronald Araujo to Frankie de Jong to Robert Lewandowski, should any team be willing to come up with a satisfactory offer on the table. Even Pedri, who was previously tipped to be the mainstay in the squad, could be included on the transfer list.

The future of duo Joaos, Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix, is suddenly in doubt. So are the possible contract extensions for Sergi Roberto and the prospect of Ansu Fati’s return after his loan spell in Brighton. The only names who are safe from the squad overhaul are the skipper and goalie, Marc Andre Ter-Stegen, and the ones rising from the B team, Fermin Lopez, Pau Cubarsi, Lamine Yamal, and Gavi.

The Chance in the Remaining Games

So, how is Barcelona’s chance to secure second place? It might not be as easy as expected. They are in a two-horse race with Girona and have four matches left. Both are separated by one point. Blaugrana has collected 73 points, while Girona has 74. The Catalan giants are playing host to Real Sociedad and Rayo Vallecano and taking on Almeria and Sevilla on the road. Barcelona tickets could be in high demand for these four fixtures. Girona, on the other hand, only faces off Deportivo Alaves and Valencia on the road and welcomes Villareal and Granada on their home turf.

Xavi’s men must seal a maximum of 12 points, plus hope Artem Dovbyk and Co. slip along the way. Unfortunately, Blaugrana’s form is rather unconvincing and frequently demonstrates their mistakes as well as their common defensive frailties. Girona’s second goal, which put them on level terms last weekend, was a recent example. Sergi Roberto’s back pass to the defence line led to Girona’s equaliser.

Overall, they have already suffered ten losses this season: five in La Liga, three in the Champions League, and one each in the Copa del Rey and the Supercopa de Espana. Among those defeats in the Spanish top flight, four of which occurred at their home turf, against Girona, Real Madrid, Villareal, and PSG.

Based on their recent form, Robert Lewandowski and Co. are not likely to win all the remaining games. They may pick up a win over Real Sociedad, Rayo Vallecano, and Almeria, but they will only share spoils while visiting Sevilla in the final fixture. In the meantime, Girona, which has secured a place in the Champions League next season, might snatch a victory against Alaves, Villareal, and Granada but could be held to a draw while taking on Los Ches on the road.