In the continuation of a new FourFourTwo series, Tim Stannard dissects another disastrous week for a free-falling Barcelona...
The week in five words
Not the best, on reflection
What went well
Er, aside from any kind of mole infestation being cleared up on a training centre pitch or a canteen worker winning €10 (S$15.30) on a scratch card, it is impossible to think of anything happening in Barcelona’s week that could be described as going "well".
Everything, everything, everything.
A completely predictable Atlético Madrid did exactly what it says on the Rojiblanco tin with a 2-0 win to knock Barcelona out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals. The only Barca supporter happy with that was probably Pep Guardiola, due to the relief of the Bayern Munich boss avoiding being asked 10,000 times what it means to be playing his old club again.
There was another incident with a footballer getting overexcited on social media, and it wasn’t Gerard Piqué, who would have been the obvious suspect. But to top everything off, the home clash against Valencia in the Camp Nou was a 2-1 defeat to allow Atlético Madrid to draw level at the top of the table and resurgent Real Madrid to nestle just one point behind.
With Barcelona playing reasonably well for much of the game against Valencia – they could have been 3-0 up in the opening 20 minutes – the sensation for manager Luis Enrique must have been that when things aren’t going well, they really aren’t going well. At all. "Football brings lots of surprises, but today is not a day to criticise players, but praise them,” Enrique said, identifying that the team just didn’t get the rub of the green on Sunday.
Quote of the week
“Whether the video was OK-timing or inopportune is for each person to decide,” said the diplomatic Luis Enrique on the Instagram excursion of Dani Alves, when the footballer opted for popping on a wig and doing an impression of his ladyfriend trying to console him after the Atlético Madrid defeat.
The need-to-know facts
- Messi ended a five-game goal drought and recorded his 500th senior goal in the defeat to Valencia
- Barcelona's comfortable La Liga lead has evaporated. They are now level with Atletico Madrid on 76 points, one point ahead of Real Madrid
- Valencia bounced back impressively from their heaviest defeat of the season, a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Barcelona in February
Video of the week
It’s a scant selection of picks but Andrés Iniesta reflected how personally he took the defeat to Atlético Madrid loss with the footballer apparently wiping away tears on the team coach after the game.
The World Cup winner also happened to be Barcelona’s best performer on the night in the Vicente Calderón. The tears of doom and regret were a true reflection of the mood of the Barcelona mind as opposed to the nonsense from a certain fooling-about fullback.
As mentioned above, Luis Enrique had noted that everyone could have their own opinion on the actions of Dani Alves. The Barcelona manager made his very clear indeed by dropping the Brazilian to the bench in what was an incredibly key match against Valencia.
Oh, to be a fly-on-the-wall on the morning after the night before that video was posted and the pair met on the training ground pitches. There may have been a huge kick up the bum involved. There certainly should have been.