Barcelona 1-4 PSG - What next for Barcelona?
It has been described as an annihilation, another in the long list of embarrassing defeats and the passing of the guard.
The baton being handed down from greatest to ever do it to the best in the world right now.
As Kylian Mbappe caressed home his third of the night to compound further misery on Barcelona, the football world ran out of superlatives to describe the French superstar. And as dominant as the visitors were, and as thoroughly deserving of their victory, the praise and adulation must be taken into context of just who their opposition really are, and where they are at as a club.
Yes, a 4-1 victory at the Camp Nou is an iconic scoreline and to be celebrated. To put it into context, it’s been nearly 25 years since an opposing player scored a hat-trick at the legendary ground, one Andriy Shevchenko.
Let's be clear, the Barcelona dismantled in the first leg of the tie are not the Barcelona of the past. So the defeat should be looked at as not surprising, disappointing for Barca fans yes, but not unexpected. It’s true that the home side came into the game in improved form than they were when the draw was made and Messi had began to get into his stride domestically, but as pointed out elsewhere, Ronald Koeman’s side have failed almost every “big” challenge they faced. Going down in El Clasico 3-1, being defeated by Atletico Madrid 1-0 in La Liga. Cup defeats in the Supercopa to Athletic Club 3-2 and 2-0 against Sevilla in Copa Del Rey.
It can be argued that Barcelona’s season is over before the end of February, which would be the first time since 2006/07 that they exited the Champions league at this early stage, and technically is possible they could turn around a 2-0 deficit at Sevilla especially in this of all weird seasons, but looks unlikely. And Atletico have an almost insurmountable lead at the top of La Liga, eight points ahead with a game in hand.
So the big question, what now? The rebuild has already begun, it can be argued. Although riddled with approximately a billion euro debt, no board in place and living with the incompetence from the previous regime and constant questions over the managers long term future, on the field there is some promise at least.
Ronald Araujo (21), Pedri (18), Ansu Fati (18), Riqui Puig (21), Oscar Mingueza (21), Trincao (21), Sergino Dest (20) have all had a significant input into the season so far. And coupled with the frustratingly talented Ousmane Dembele (23) and Frenkie De Jong (23) the future doesn't look too bleak, but they will take time to gel and develop. So in the context of the first leg defeat to PSG, the promise versus the established, was more than likely going to end one way.
The rebuild to past glories may take longer than some fans might think, but establishing a new board with the correct people in place will be imperative and is a shame that the elections couldn't take place in january as planned, but patience will be needed from all concerned from top to bottom. It will not be easy in a footballing society that demands success yesterday, and the moving on of arguably the greatest player of all time was always going to be messy (sorry) whether that happens or not is still up for debate.
Competitively the season may be over, but for those involved there can be a lot to gain in the remaining few months. The experience that the youngsters can gain from playing at the highest level week in, week out is invaluable in itself. Also having older heads on hand, the likes of Pique, Busquets, Alba and Messi can also help with dealing with such disappointment
And as the old saying goes, you learn more in your defeats than successes and without a doubt the Blaugrana fans will be hoping the next generation are taking it all in and face the challenge head on to restore glory once again.