Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Barca starts to feel the pressure
by Paul Kennedy, February 14th, 2012 12:55AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  spain, uefa champions league

MOST COMMENTED

[WORLD VIEW] We've been spoiled by Barcelona. Competing on all fronts over the last three-plus seasons may be starting to take its toll. Winner of the last three Spanish league titles, Barca has all but conceded this season's La Liga crown to Real Madrid. We can only hope this is not the beginning of the end for one of the greatest teams ever assembled. We'll get a better idea of what shape Barca is in when it resumes play in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday at Bayer Leverkusen.

Saturday's 3-2 loss at Osasuna -- a team it had previously beaten three times by a margin of 14-1 this season -- left Barcelona 10 points behind Real Madrid in La Liga.

Since losing to Barcelona, 3-1, at home on Dec. 10, Real Madrid has won all seven league games it played. Barcelona, meanwhile, hasn't been playing poorly, but three wins and two ties in addition to the Osasuna defeat isn't good enough to keep up with the Merengues.

Barcelona is paying the price for its domination over Real Madrid by having had to face Valencia twice in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey this month after knocking off Real Madrid in the two-leg quarterfinals in January.

Barcelona won the second leg 2-0 to advance to the final, but Coach Josep Guardiola used all his regulars, most notably Xavi and Andres Iniesta, who were rested at Osasuna on Saturday.

We'll know soon if Lionel Messi is indefatigable -- he has played in every league game this season and all six Copa del Rey games in January and February -- but Barca can't afford to be without Xavi or Iniesta.

If Barcelona isn't one thing, it's not deep. It has one of the smallest rosters of any of the Champions League contenders, and it has lost David Villa -- out with a broken leg suffered at the Club World Cup -- and Dutchman Ibrahim Affelay, also injured. Sergio Busquets is hurting, and Seydou Keita has been away with Mali at the Africa Cup of Nations.

With Barca trailing 2-0 and then 3-1 at Osasuna, Guardiola brought on youngsters Isaac Cuenca and Cristian Tello in the second half and kept Xavi and Iniesta on the bench.

If Barcelona couldn't win without Xavi and Iniesta against Osasuna, it won't win the Champions League again without them.

Guardiola recognizes pressure is on his team now that La Liga title is slipping away. He just doesn't buy the argument that Barca's season will be a failure if it doesn't make up for losing La Liga title to Real Madrid by winning the Champions League.

"You have the feeling that if we don't win the Champions League it's a failure,'' he said. "The Champions League is always difficult at this stage. We know how close it can be."

Barcelona has already won Spain's Supercopa, the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup in Japan and will play Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey.

Even if it loses out in its bid to repeat in La Liga and the Champions League, Barca is on course to finish the 2011-12 season with three or maybe four trophies.

Not shabby by anyone's standards.



1 comment
  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: February 14, 2012 at 10:41 p.m.
    Victim of their own high standards. No team has repeated as Champions League winners since 1990. No Barca team has ever had as good a record against Madrid in a 3-4 year span as this team. (both clubs have been playing for 100 years.) When all is said and done, looking at the 5 year lifespan of this team is going to be historic. But losing La Liga is by no means a sign of their descent. Losing Iniesta, Busquets, or Messi for the year or more would make me much more nervous.


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
The Good, The Bad and -- the Beyonce    
[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Fans and celebrities alike were treated to a fantastic UEFA Champions league game ...
What They're Saying: Bruce Arena    
"First of all, we haven't won anything, so right now we don't stack up with anybody. ...
Report: Ownership group primed to buy LA team    
[MLS SPOTLIGHT] The ownership group that's almost certain to acquire Chivas USA from MLS and move ...
'Clinical' PSG punishes Barca weaknesses    
[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Tuesday] No Zlatan Ibrahimovic? No Thiago Silva? No problem for Paris St. Germain ...
USL PRO final outdraws college football in Sacramento    
[SOCCER ON THE AIR] Saturday's USL PRO final won by Sacramento Republic FC averaged a 1.6 ...
Klinsmann has lots of choices for October friendlies    
[USA MEN] The pair of international friendlies against Ecuador Oct. 10 and Honduras Oct. 14 should ...
Where to Watch European Soccer    
Here are 329 places Soccer America readers recommend where you should go to watch soccer for ...
Soccer America Men's Top 25    
[COLLEGE RANKINGS] Defending champion Notre Dame is back on top in the Soccer America Men's Top ...
Soccer America Women's Top 25    
[COLLEGE RANKINGS] Despite its 1-1 tie at Arizona State, defending champion UCLA held on to the ...
Mario Goetze's beautiful backward nutmeg on Brecko    
[VIDEO PICK: Skills] Mario Goetze, Germany's World Cup final hero, not only has a nose for ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives