Barcelona’s dark years

FC Barcelona – La Liga A fifth straight Champions League humiliation

Barcelona's dark years

Barcelona endured another dark night on Tuesday. It was another night to forget in the Champions League, of which there are already five.

The Catalans, once obvious favourites to win the competition every year, have been suffering a mini five-year history of continental disasters.

Barcelona aren’t performing in the Champions League. In this season, one of change and transition, they weren’t expected to compete for the trophy, but the manner of their 4-1 loss to Paris Saint-Germain raised a lot of questions.

The scoreline, the performance and the feelings on the night confirm that Ronald Koeman hasn’t been able to remedy the problems faced upon his arrival.

Koeman follows Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setien in failing in Europe, and it no longer seems to matter who is on the bench. Humiliations have come against Juventus, Roma, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, and now PSG.

The squad and the coaches have changed in the last five years, but the disappointments have remained. In fact, only three players are still in the Barcelona setup from when the European rot set in: Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, and Lionel Messi.

The 2016/17 season is remembered most for that historic comeback against PSG, but the Catalans were knocked out in the next round against Juventus in Turin, losing 3-0. The return leg ended scoreless at the Camp Nou.

After eliminating Chelsea in the first knockout round, Valverde’s side went to Rome. They beat Roma 4-1 at home, and looked set to move into the quarter-finals.

But then they went to the Stadio Olimpico, where they somehow lost 3-0, failing to score against the Italians.

Barcelona took a 3-0 lead from the first leg to Liverpool, but it all fell apart in England. The runners-up from the 2017/18 Champions League went on to win 4-0, with Barcelona left on their knees.

Last season, one marked by the pandemic, Barcelona met German champions Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals. Valverde had been replaced by Setien in January, and the Catalans fell to a shocking 8-2 loss, which prompted the coach’s dismissal.

This year’s round of 16 hasn’t been decided yet, but a 4-1 lead leaves a mountain to be climbed in Paris. The return leg will be played on March 10, but Barcelona are more fearful of another dark night than they are hopeful of a comeback.

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