Barcelona will take to the pitch against Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday in the knowledge that they are powerless to change their European fate. Their destiny being a second run in the Europa League in two years.
It has once again plunged the club into a process of self-examination, after investing significantly in their team over the summer. The problem has been ongoing for five years now though, as Barcelona consistently come up short when the going gets tough in Europe.
The issue stretches all the way back to a team with Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta in the side. The Spanish midfielder recently spoke to Diario AS about Barcelona’s European struggles.
“You’re right that from here, away from the focus, everything looks different. I want Barça and the people I know and appreciate to do well. Since Xavi came in, the evolution has been very positive and the current squad is super complete in all areas, but there are things that happen and the Champions League is decided by details. I could have won a match against Bayern and Inter, but it didn’t happen.”
Few people have a better insight into Xavi Hernandez’s footballing brain than Iniesta. They played alongside each other for over a decade and the Vissel Kobe player says that he still keeps in regular contact with the Barcelona manager, although they rarely discuss tactical details.
The problem for Barcelona is that there does not appear to be a clear route to success. Iniesta himself was unsure exactly what had caused the problems over such a long period.
“I honestly don’t know, but it is clear that some things are not being done well or not sufficiently well to change that dynamic. I have also suffered hard setbacks, the last one in Rome. We haven’t been able to manage those details that I’m talking about and that decide knock-out ties and matches. The feeling is that we are missing a necessary step [forward] to cross the border we haven’t gotten over lately.”