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Missing Messi Magic | Barcelona condemned to consecutive Europa League appearances

The departure of Lionel Messi has played a vital role in Barcelona’s inability to conjure up magical European nights over the last two seasons since his arrival at Paris Saint-Germain


Spanish giants Barcelona continue to struggle on the continent for the second successive season after confirmation that Xavi’s men will drop down to the Europa League.

Needing help from Czech champions Viktoria Plzen tonight in an early kick-off in Milan against Serie A outfit Inter, Plzen was unable to conjure any magic away from home as they were thrashed 4-0 at the San Siro, with the result confirming that, even if Barcelona do manage to beat German juggernaut Bayern Munich - who lead 2-0 at the time of writing - they will still fail to emerge from group play in the Champions League once again.

And, perhaps not surprisingly, the absence of Argentine legend Lionel Messi continues to be felt in Catalunya.

Since his departure from the club which has been so heavily defined by his influence and progression into one of the greatest players to ever play the game, Barça has been unable to reach the knockout stages of Europe’s premier club competition despite their continued focus on player recruitment.

Last season saw the Catalan side finish third in Group E which then also contained the aforementioned Bayern as well as Portuguese giants SL Benfica and perennial Ukrainian representative Shakhtar Donetsk.

Barça managed just two goals throughout the entire group stage before dropping down to the Europa League, and although they managed to put together a solid run with knockout stage wins against SSC Napoli and Galatasaray FK, they ultimately were knocked out in the quarterfinals by eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt.

Xavi must hope for an even better run this time around, while Messi, who has gone through a major period of a resurgence at Paris Saint-Germain this season and has helped the club reach the knockout stage once again on the back of influential displays, continues to excel.

Many in the Barça fanbase will no doubt be heavily disappointed tonight regardless of the club’s La Liga form that sees them just three points adrift of bitter rivals Real Madrid while boasting the league’s best defense and joint-top goal return.

The club has gone through a major refit in the senior squad since January that saw major deals for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ferran Torres, Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Koundé, Franck Kessié, Andreas Christensen, Marcos Alonso, and Héctor Bellerín as well as the previous summer which saw the arrival of Memphis Depay, and Eric García.

Over €220m spent and a continued failure to reach the later stages of the Champions League will no doubt spawn serious questions if the club fails to bring home any major honors come the end of the season.

But one thing is certain; no amount of player recruitment can ever replace what legends bring to the table.


Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.



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