When it comes to drama and chaos then Barcelona rarely fail to disappoint, and the last seven days must rank as one of the most eventful weeks at the club in recent years. It’s also been a pretty good one when it comes to supporting the Catalan giants, and it’s been a while since we could say that.
Yet it all got off to a rather unauspicious start last Monday when Catalan police raided Barcelona offices as part of the Barcagate scandal. News swiftly followed that former president Josep Maria Bartomeu had been arrested which certainly brightened up a Monday morning.
Matters then turned back to the pitch where Barca faced a tough ask, coming back from 2-0 down against Sevilla in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey. Ousmane Dembele gave Barca hope with an early goal but then all hope looked to be lost when Sevilla won a penalty.
Step forward Marc-Andre ter Stegen who produced a brilliant save to deny Lucas Ocampos and suddenly you got the feeling that this was going to be Barca’s night. Of course, the team still made us sweat, waiting until the 94th minute to equalize through Gerard Pique.
The center-back’s wild celebrations said it all. The game went into extra-time and Martin Braithwaite popped up with the winner to secure a place in the final next month against Athletic.
The celebrations after the match were heartfelt and deserved. And in amongst it all was a thoroughly delighted Lionel Messi. The smile has returned to the captain’s face and hope remains that this may not be his last season at the club after all.
You suspect that one of the reasons for Messi looking far happier these days is the club’s young players who are offering plenty of promise. Pedri has struck up a great relationship with the captain but on Saturday it was the turn of another youngster to steal the limelight.
Step forward Ilaix Moriba, who only turned 18 in January, but already appears to have completely convinced Ronald Koeman of his qualities. The midfielder has forced his way into the Dutchman’s plans this season and offered more excitement with his first goal against Osasuna.
We all know that finances are a problem at Barcelona currently, making big-name signings difficult, but Ilaix is one of a crop of youngsters who are allowing fans to dream about a brighter future.
Pedri, Ansu Fati, Oscar Mingueza, Ronald Araujo, Sergino Dest, Riqui Puig, and Francisco Trincao all look to have big futures ahead of them and offer real hope that Barca can build yet another thrilling team.
So too Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembele, who at 23 are not much older, but who are both enjoying very productive seasons at Barcelona.
Saturday’s victory closed the gap on Atletico to two points and the win was made even sweeter on Sunday when the Rojiblancos were held to a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano. Diego Simeone’s side are still title favorites but it’s by no means over yet.
The youngsters may play a big role in ensuring Lionel Messi finishes his career at the Camp Nou but so too may the club’s new president Joan Laporta who enjoyed a huge victory in the delayed elections on Sunday.
It was no surprise at all to see Laporta named president for a second time, and one of the first things he said was how happy he’d been to see Messi at the polls which is “proof that Leo Messi loves Barça. Messi wants Barça, the best player in the world wants Barça and that is very significant.”
Messi’s future is one of a raft of important topics Laporta now has to deal with but with a new president finally installed and a team packed full of promising talent, Barca can now start building towards a brighter future.