Barcelona’s ‘little summer’ is over – can El Clasico improve the mood? – Athleticism

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Barcelona’s ‘little summer’ is over – can El Clasico improve the mood?  – Athleticism


Barcelona fans woke up to dark gray skies on Thursday morning.

After a few weeks of summer into early spring, temperatures dropped last week and there were clouds and some rain (much needed, given that the Catalonia region is experiencing a drought).

The mini heatwave (up to 29°C/84F was recorded) accompanied the surge of Barça fans returning from Paris with the feeling of having fallen in love all over again, as any trip to the the French capital.

From the moment Xavi’s side beat Napoli in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16, optimism began to grow and the quarter-final first leg victory over Paris Saint-Germain made raise everyone’s hopes even higher.

After many years of European trauma, it felt like a change of seasons was underway.

For many Barcelona fans there can be no nuance, their footballing life is lived in black and white. You make your choice: crazy expectation or devoted fatalism. Some thought we should be careful and not enjoy the happiness of this 3-2 victory at the Parc des Princes. Many others gave in – and the mood of Tuesday night’s second leg indicated that many people were ready to party.

This lasted about 30 minutes.


Araujo’s red card sparked Barca’s loss to PSG (David Ramos/Getty Images)

Ronald Araujo’s red card, Xavi’s red card, Joao Cancelo’s mistake on the penalty spot: there were many weak points. But Araujo’s dismissal was the almost immediate dose of ice water poured on inflamed passions. The final whistle brought defeat, silence and the sad commotion of emptying bars.

Barcelona lost 4-1, PSG progressed with an aggregate score of 6-4. That evening, the players were depressed, especially Araujo. “Like they’ve been hit by a truck,” a club source said of the team’s state of mind, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect his position.

In truth, there was little reason to view the defeat as traumatic – although that perhaps says more about the nature of those defeats to Roma in 2018, Liverpool in 2019 and Bayern Munich in 2020.

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And at least then, there was still one reason to look on the bright side: Pep Guardiola.

Last season, Manchester City’s victory over Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final was celebrated as a victory for Barcelona (during a season where Xavi’s side failed to get past the group stage). There were firecrackers in the streets. Many Madrilenians are more capable of rejoicing in Madrid’s failures than in their own team’s successes.

In this week’s case, Madrid’s eventual elimination felt more like a consolation prize – due to the positives that could still be taken from Barca’s improvement on the elite European stage this season (it was his first appearance in the Champions League round of 16 since Lionel Messi left, after all).

But even here there was a familiar disappointment.


Madrid will face Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final (Darren Staples/AFP via Getty Images)

The way Carlo Ancelotti pitted his Madrid team against City was reminiscent of the tactic José Mourinho’s Inter Milan successfully deployed at the Camp Nou against Guardiola’s Barça en route to the treble in 2010. Fans of the Barça had seen this film too many times in the past. decade.

“Whoever wrote this week’s script for Barca fans must be pretty happy with himself,” Catalan radio was quoted as saying. Really, the scenario couldn’t have been worse.

Barcelona had a chance to reach the semi-finals but failed to take it largely due to a red card and the reaction of the team (and their manager).

Ousmane Dembélé returned to torment them, thriving in a hostile atmosphere as he was named player of the match.

Madrid has passed.

And in doing so, they eliminated not just any team, but Guardiola’s Manchester City, the prodigal son playing the football Barca fans have long awaited at home.

In Catalonia, we call this an “estiuet” (small summer): occasional phenomenon of unusual heat in autumn or spring, before temperatures drop again.

A week ago, some Barca fans were confident of reaching Wembley (the prospect of Borussia Dortmund or Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals was not too worrying) for the Champions League final. Xavi was the man who would continue this success next season. Some might even have considered closing the eight-point gap on Madrid with victory in the La Liga Clasico on Sunday.

Today, these European hopes have disappeared. There is little certainty over who will be Barca’s head coach next season, and the only alternative to Xavi is Rafa Marquez, who sporting director Deco recently described as just a “plan B “.

The April estiuet is over – but maybe it’s time for one last hurrah.

(Top photo: Adria Puig/Anadolu via Getty Images)



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