Barcelona are getting back up to full speed as the countdown continues towards their La Liga return. In ten days time, they will face Espanyol at Camp Nou.
Slowly but surely, the Blaugrana have recovered their squad from the World Cup, where a total of 17 players were on duty with their nations. Only Jules Kounde and Ousmane Dembele are absent, after Raphinha and Memphis Depay returned to training on Wednesday.
Speaking to BarcaTV, manager Xavi Hernandez recalled one of the trickiest moments of the season. Declaring that Barcelona were going for the league, he highlighted the key areas where he felt his side were lacking in their Champions League elimination.
“I think we have to be self-critical. From a football point of view, the Champions League affected us, it was the moment to kill the game and we couldn’t. On a football level, we have to be self-critical, we should have gone through the group stage.”
“I would say that in the Champions League we lacked maturity. At the right moment to be more effective. Against Bayern we were much better in the first half and they killed us. Against Inter at home too, we had chances. Even in the last minutes in Milan we had to draw or win. It is our mistake due to lack of maturity and effectiveness.”
Sport carried his comments, and it is hard to disagree with his analysis. A more mature Barcelona likely would have gone through. With a midfield often consisting of Pedri and Gavi, at times Alejandro Balde at left-back, Ferran Torres or Ansu Fati up front, it is understandable that Barcelona lack maturity.
It only tells part of the story though. Only during their first half against Bayern Munich did it feel as if things were going to plan across their four ties with the Bavarians and Inter. Chronic issues with spacing in the midfield and disorganisation in defence have plagued the Blaugrana beyond just their European campaign this season.