Why Barcelona’s Champions League Result Is Worse Than It Seems

Barcelona manager Xavi (left) and president Joan Laporta (right)

FC Barcelona were held to a 3-3 draw by Inter Milan at the Nou Camp on Wednesday, with the outcome all but guaranteeing the Blaugrana’s elimination from the UEFA Champions League. Despite being knocked out at the same stage last campaign, this year’s result is a lot worse than it seems given the financial instruments Barça used to fund the current team.

The fixture against Inter immediately became an all-time UCL classic, but effectively condemned Barcelona to the UEFA Europa League. The draw keeps the Catalans in 3rd spot in Group C, 3 points behind the Italian giants who occupy the final Round of 16 qualification spot alongside group leaders Bayern Munich.

Barcelona now essentially need a miracle to progress in the competition, with Inter having to take a maximum of one point from the final two fixtures for the Blaugrana to have any chance of going through.

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The Spanish club’s financial vice-president Eduard Romeu announced at last week’s AGM that without the income from the many levers Barcelona took out, they’d have had lost €106million last year, and this year the projection is a €210million loss.

“Last season the impact of being eliminated in the Champions League groups was €12million,” continued Romeu during the AGM last week (quotes via The Athletic).

“We were counting on income we didn’t get, but we also saved costs. This year, we are aiming to win La Liga and reach the Champions League quarter-finals.”

Unfortunately for the Club and those involved in its finances, Barcelona will be crashing out of the UCL at a much earlier stage than targeted, with the fiscal implications of being eliminated at the group stage this season bound to be way more severe than last campaign’s.

“We know we cannot function forever based on levers,” said Barcelona president Joan Laporta at the AGM. “We have to respond to demands for immediate results as soon as possible.”

Romeu then cleared up: “If we do not do something, with the current structure we will lose €200million each year.”

Barcelona President Joan Laporta
Barcelona President Joan Laporta

President Laporta was reportedly livid with Barcelona manager Xavi at the end of Wednesday’s clash with Inter, as per Joan Vehils.

The current La Liga leaders splashed out €153million on transfers in the summer, and millions more on wages for players signed on a free. Given all the financial risks taken by the Club’s hierarchy to assemble the current squad, Laporta’s frustrations are understandable.

Xavi in turn was angry with his players, who have had a drop-off in performances since the international break. The Barça boss was visibly upset in his post-match interview, suggesting his side don’t deserve to play in the Champions League.

“The first half was excellent, we attacked well and made Inter suffer, working well in midfield with Pedri and Gavi,” said Xavi after the game. “In the second half, we made too many mistakes, starting from the one of their first goal that made our heads drop.

“There was an error on the second goal too and that cannot happen in this type of match. Mistakes are expensive in the Champions League.

“We tried to fight back with character, but if you can’t beat Inter at home, you don’t deserve to progress in the Champions League.

 “We know that it is no longer in our hands, we don’t deserve to carry on in the Champions League.”

Xavi went on to state that his players now need to focus on La Liga as it becomes the number one priority for the team. The World Cup winning player is now in a do-or-die situation, with success in the league becoming imperative for his future at the Club off the back of the UCL exit.

Laporta and his fellow directors reportedly demanded an immediate response from Xavi this weekend at the Santiago Bernabeu against nemesis Real Madrid. Despite his legendary status in Barcelona and across the football world, Xavi seems to be under increasing pressure at the Nou Camp.

Barcelona manager Xavi (left) and president Joan Laporta (right)
Barcelona manager Xavi (left) and president Joan Laporta (right)