You get the feeling that as disappointing as this season has been for Barcelona, it could also be a lot worse.
They got a favorable draw in the Champions League, and they were able to top their group.
They’ve had very easy match-ups in their first two Copa del Rey fixtures, and now they’re on to the quarter-finals.
Even the semi-final of the Spanish Supercopa gave them an easy path forward.
Barca has been able to do the bare minimum, and still keep their hopes alive for titles across all the major competitions.
And yet optimism is low. And the win against Unionistas helps illustrate why.
Xavi introduced some new faces to the lineup, but it still looked like the same old Barca to start the game. Lots of possession and control of the game, but they still found themselves going down 1-0 after shaky defending gave their opponents a wide open goal.
This team really struggles to find a breakthrough going forward. And they are playing with a high line that leaves them exposed.
Xavi doesn’t look like he has new ideas to change things up in a meaningful way. As long as he’s the manager, with this group of players, this is what we’re going to get.
And whether you’re playing against a top team in Europe, or a third division Spanish side, Barcelona will continue to be vulnerable.
It was nice to see the ball go into the back of the net, but all three goals came as the result of truly elementary defending from Unionistas.
A wide open run down the field for Ferran Torres and Alejandro Balde. Jules Kounde with a wide open shot, wondering why no one was closing him down. Not a lot can be taken from this game to give the team hope going forward.
And yet, Atletico Madrid knocked out Barcelona’s main competition for the Copa trophy.
Watching the Colchoneros this season really makes me sad that Barcelona couldn’t find a way to make Antoine Griezmann work. So much class from that guy that Barcelona is simply missing at the moment. Even Memphis Depay would be an asset when you consider how lackluster the Blaugrana forwards have been.
And yet, this is what Barcelona has. And the roster, and the manager, are not likely to change anytime soon.
In their current form, Barcelona will be behind Real Madrid, Girona, and maybe even Atletico in the Spanish table.
I have my doubts that they’ll get past Napoli in the Champions League knockouts.
But the Copa del Rey is a competition Xavi can’t take for granted.
With Real Madrid out of the picture, it’s theirs to lose.
One thing that’s becoming apparent, the manager doesn’t plan to fundamentally change the way his team is playing.
If that stays the same, I don’t expect them to be able to compete with the best and brightest.
But if they’re focused and motivated in the Copa, they are more than capable of taking home a pretty decent consolation prize.
Where possible, it would be great to see more of the young players. That includes Vitor Roque.
Can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.
Change can only come from new faces.
The familiar ones won’t get Barca far, but maybe just enough to make the Copa del Rey interesting.