On 2 May 2019, Barça were on cloud nine, Lionel Messi had just dropped a stunning display to guide a 3-0 victory over Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals and the Catalan city was buzzing, fully aware that the team were just three single matches away from adding a new chapter to their history books. But on May 7, the excitement in the air madly faded, turning everything that once seemed inches away from grasping into a complete disaster. A season that was three matches away from making history, three matches away from securing the renowned treble, three 90 minute matches away from rewarding Messi for of all his incredible performances this season ended in a catastrophic manner: no Champions League, nor the Copa del Rey but rather faces of disappointment and sorrow. What could’ve been a fairy tale ending to the season, finished in pain with fans wanting to rip out this season’s page from the books, burn it and forget it ever existed.
That night at Anfield has mentally dismantled the players and the fans, but even more so it has ravaged the philosophy of a club who once ruled the world with their unique style of play. The players are still stuck in Anfield, they are still trapped in that night of horror and the Copa del Rey final was just evidence to prove it. The 2-1 loss to Valencia serves to illustrate two things: first, to reiterate the fact that the players are still imprisoned in Anfield, replaying all of Liverpool’s goals over and over again like a broken record and second, that their playing style that once was so appealing to the eye has become unrecognizable and is far from effective. It’s not about possession, but positional play. It’s not about having the ball, but knowing what to do with it. Two simple rules that have been slowly washed out throughout the past two seasons with Ernesto Valverde as coach.
Valverde has achieved great heights with the club, a double in his first year in charge and now LaLiga this season, recording the greatest points gap over Real Madrid of 19. But, it is time for him to say his goodbyes, pack his bags and leave the Camp Nou for the sake of himself, and the club. He has nothing else to offer and the motivation and drive needed to lead a dressing room with the likes of Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique has faded. He needs to leave.
In April, the story that seemed to have a ‘happily ever after’ ending took some unexpected twists and turns, exposing several key figures on the way until it finally hit the end of the road. Messi,the greatest player of all time, who has arguably dropped one of his best seasons ever, has to return to his frustrating Argentina team with just one piece of silverware. Things need to change.