Barcelona’s elimination from the UEFA Champions League was confirmed on Wednesday night, even prior to their 3-0 home defeat to Bayern Munich. The outcome of the evening’s fixtures condemned the Spanish giants to the Europa League knockout stages, with the Blaugrana’s midfield star Pedri claiming his side don’t deserve to still be playing in Europe’s elite competition.
Barcelona’s exit from the tournament was already set in stone before their game begun at the Nou Camp on Wednesday. Inter’s result in the other Group C encounter against Viktoria Plzeñ, which was the early kick-off, secured the Italian side’s place in the Round of 16 as group runners-up behind Bayern.
The Catalans failure to qualify for the next stage of the UCL has major financial ramifications, costing Barcelona millions in future revenues after the Club spent beyond their current means to assemble a squad that can compete immediately.
Barcelona manager and legendary former midfielder Xavi, has been under immense pressure since his side’s place in Europe’s second-rate competition was all but confirmed, after a 3-3 draw with Inter a few weeks ago. The 2010 World Cup winner was ordered by Club president Joan Laporta to bounce back immediately with a victory in El Clasico a few days later. But Real Madrid ran away 3-1 winners in the derby, adding further doubt to his credentials to take this Barcelona side back to the pinnacle of world football.
Spanish International midfielder, and one of Europe’s most exciting talents Pedri, expressed his disappointment in being eliminated from the UCL at the group stage for the second year running. The 19-year-old made a scathing assessment of Barcelona’s current situation, stating his side are ‘not prepared to compete in the UCL.’
“Of course, it’s a failure, Barca have to get out of the group and they haven’t because we didn’t deserve to continue in the Champions League,” said Pedri to Movistar after the game.
“We are a very young team, with a lot of room for improvement, we have made great signings, but it has not been enough for us enough to compete in the Champions League and it’s a great disappointment.
“We lack many things, but we have to be self-critical. It is true that in Munich we deserved more, in Milan there were a couple of circumstances… but after seeing what happened today it has been seen that we are not prepared to compete in the Champions League.”
Not only does Barcelona’s third place finish in the group mean that they drop down to the Europa League, but it also means the Club will have to schedule two extra fixtures around February, as they have to face a team which finished second in their Europa League group.
After the loss to Bayern, Xavi explained how the result against Inter a few weeks prior affected the players psychologically, meaning they couldn’t get motivated for the tie.
“Today we have not reached their level, they have been better,” said Xavi to Marca.
“In Munich it was us, but today they have been better, more intense. The elimination affected us psychologically. Tomorrow, we train and think about LaLiga. There were high expectations, we had a difficult group. Everything possible happened to us. It has been very cruel. We didn’t compete well today.”
Xavi tried to then shine a light on the situation, looking for positives to take back home to Spain.
“This is our reality and we have to face it. Maybe that’s what we needed, to be given a beating to grow,” added the Barça boss.
“Today it was already over, too late to do anything. The main reason that we got to this situation was because of our own mistakes in the previous games, we failed to be effective upfront.
“There are still other tournaments to play. It’s a hard blow but we need to be self-critical to be able to win those titles.”
Xavi will be hoping he’ll still be in the job to try and guide Barcelona to success in other competitions.
The Blaugrana face a tricky trip to Valencia in La Liga on Saturday, as Xavi’s men aim to stay hot on the heels of league-leaders Real Madrid.