8th May, 2018
The news of Barcelona’s 4-0 bashing by Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday which resulted in the elimination of the team from this year’s Champions League at the semi-finals stage in almost exactly the fashion it happened against AS Roma last year is no longer breaking news.
What is now the news is surely the events that are likely to come as a result of this painful loss to the Spaniards. The first casualty in these type of cases is usually the sacking of the gaffer. It is in line with this tradition that Barcelona’s coach was asked questions concerning his future at the club after the painful loss to Liverpool.
“How does it affect my future? I do not know, the truth is that I did not have time to think about many things, but the coach has to take responsibility,” he told Movistar Plus after the match at Anfield.
Ernesto Valverde has won La Liga in both seasons and is on course to win the domestic double, as Copa del Rey final is yet to be played. However, after two such heartbreaking losses, many believe that domestic double will not be enough to save his job this time around.
Before Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg debacle against Liverpool, Valverde and Barca stood on the brink of an incredible treble with his status set to be boosted.
The LaLiga title was already in the bag and Barca led a weakened Reds side 3-0 after the semi-final first leg, while the Copa del Rey final against Valencia is still to come.
But then came another unexpected collapse on Europe’s biggest stage – a second in two years and this may just have changed everything.
Where Valverde was previously closing in on a place alongside Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique in Barca’s modern history, his job now appears less than certain.
Here are a few reasons why Valverde may just be under pressure right now.
Barcelona watched Real Madrid collect the Champions League trophy in four of the past five years heading into this season and there was a determination within the club, openly expressed by no other person than Lionel Messi himself to put that right.
Then luckily too, the god of soccer seemed to have been on the side of the Catalan giants as they got slated to play Lyon and a mal-functioning Manchester United in the knockout stages.
With Liverpool as the toughest opponent left in the competition, Barca were leading the game 3-0 from the first leg at Camp Nou and were to play the Reds who had to play without Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah at Anfield.
However, the unexpected happened again just like it did at Roma last season and Ernesto Valverde did not appear to have a solution, extending Barca’s barren European run to four years.
Even though Barcelona have been criticised for their recruitment decisions since losing Neymar, Valverde must however surely shoulder some of the blame for failing to get the best out of Ousmane Dembele, Malcom or Philippe Coutinho, players that almost any other club would love to have.
The challenges of those signings and the increasingly inconsistent form of Luis Suarez leaves Barca too often dependent on Lionel Messi.
He rescued them from a hole in the first leg against Liverpool. Of course, he is human and cannot do this in every other match especially when one takes into consideration the fact that he is not getting any younger.
Then there is the case of a Coutinho who is performing far below expectations at the Nou Camp. Many of the home fans have openly shown their dislike for his style of play and want him sold off.
So far, he has had support shown to him by both the manager and some of his team mates but with the way things are turning out at the moment, he might just be on his way out of the team.
He is of course not the only candidate for such an exercise. The picture will surely be clearer in the next few days as the club management will have to take some “corrective” measures.