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It has been a turbulent year for Barcelona. Not winning a third consecutive La Liga title, humiliation in the Champions League, Lionel Messi transfer saga, three different coaches, and they all finish in sixth place.
Having started the year aimed at defending their crown, the Blaugrana ended the season without a trophy. The future does not seem bright at the Camp Nou.
Best Player – Lionel Messi
By his enormous standards, it has been a somewhat disappointing year for Lionel Messi. However, it is still the talisman of this Barcelona.
He finished the 2019/20 season with his lowest record since 2008, scoring just 31 goals (pathetic, I know), and started the new campaign with just five goals in open play. Despite this, he managed to win the La Liga Golden Boot, in addition to registering 21 assists, a La Liga record. In doing so, he became the second player to reach the 20 goal and assists mark in any of Europe’s top five leagues, after Thierry Henry in 2002/03.
Furthermore, his attack on Real Vallodolid set a record that will likely not be broken for generations. It was his 644th goal for Barcelona, beating Pele’s club record with Santos.
Best match – Barcelona 4-0 Villarreal
After a failed campaign, Barcelona fans hoped to bounce back under new coach Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman could hardly have had a better start to his debut match against Villarreal.
Teenager Ansu Fati got the ball rolling with an early double, and Lionel Messi soon made three from the penalty spot. Pau Torres’ own goal put the Catalan giants up 4-0 just before half-time, and that’s how it stayed.
Fati was in tip-top shape, De Jong was playing well, Coutinho was finally starting to look like the £ 142 million man they thought they bought, Messi was as stellar as ever, everything looked so promising.
Worst match – Bayern Munich 8-2 Barcelona
There are no words in the Oxford English Dictionary that can describe what we saw on August 14, 2020 in Lisbon.
After a resounding victory over Napoli, Quique Setien’s team reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League in high spirits. Little did they know what was to come.
Thomas Muller scored an early goal for Bayern Munich, but a comical David Alaba own goal tied the score. From then on, it was an absolute attack.
The Bavarians scored three in nine minutes to make it 4-1 at the break, with Ivan Perisic, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller again adding to the scoreboard. A Luis Suárez goal offered some hope of a comeback, but this was quickly nullified by Joshua Kimmich’s touch six minutes later.
Philippe Coutinho, on loan from Barcelona’s German team, completed the humiliation, first setting Robert Lewandowski for an easy header, before scoring a double in the final five minutes. Bayern Munich 8-2 Barcelona. EIGHT TWO.
As expected, this was Quique Setien’s last match in charge of Barcelona.
First, there was the situation of Martin Braithwaite, where the club could controversially sign the Dane from Leganés after an injury crisis. He’s been a pretty solid backup, but the former Middlesbrough player is barely on a par with previous Barcelona forwards.
But it was in the summer that the drama really began. They traded Brazilian midfielder Arthur for the much older Miralem Pjanic, who has yet to make his mark at the Camp Nou. American right-back Sergino Dest looks like a good addition, while winger Francisco Trincao is still on his feet.
Several of the biggest names in the club left. Not many fans will miss the unimpressive Nelson Semedo, and the € 30 million he received seems like a good deal. Also, players like Luis Suárez, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic were beyond their best and probably needed to leave.
However, those three obtained just over 1 million euros between them. Surely the players of your talent had a little more value? And, in Suarez’s case, no replacement was purchased, leaving Braithwaite as the club’s only natural forward.
Most of the summer drama came from transfers that didn’t happen. As always, Neymar was closely linked to a return to the Camp Nou, but this never materialized. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi dropped a bombshell on the soccer world by submitting a transfer request. After a long dispute with former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, the Argentine stayed one more year.
How did the manager do?
Ernesto Valverde was fired on January 13, leaving La Blaugrana in first place, but without looking convincing.
Quique Setien couldn’t finish the job, falling behind Real Madrid after a series of post-lock draws. This was exacerbated by quarter-final exits in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey.
Ronald Koeman returned to the club where he spent six years as a player, having impressed as the Netherlands coach. And somehow, it has managed to do even worse than its predecessor, leaving Barcelona in sixth place, ten points behind the best in the table, Atlético de Madrid, having played one more match.
If the Dutchman doesn’t change things quickly, soon his head will be on the block.
What an absolute nightmare year it has been for Barcelona.
To put it bluntly, they failed every single contest they entered. They finished five points away from the title, failed to make it through the quarterfinal stage of either knockout tournaments, were thrashed in the Champions League and are miles from first place this season.
And, given the current economic situation at Camp Nou, there doesn’t seem to be much light at the end of the tunnel. Nobody knows what 2021 holds for Barcelona, but it does not look promising.