Rarely a winter champion will have been as unconvincing as this Barça of the third season of Ernesto Valverde. The Barca team finished the first round of the 2019-20 League as leader, but, after leaving two points they had won in the derby against Espanyol at RCDE Stadium (2-2), it is only first for the best goal difference with the real Madrid. Tied at 40 points, the Barca team has a balance of +26 goals in favor, while that of the Zinedine Zidane team is +24. Maximum equality, but different sensations. In the white square there is the conviction that it is in the process of building a new winning project and in Barça there is an atmosphere of self-destruction and desire for change.
The 40 points that Barça has been the worst record since the 2007-08 season, the complacency admitted by Joan Laporta, then president, and the end of the ‘Frank Rijkaard era’, with Ronaldinho and Deco ending his credit sports because of his extra-sports life and with Eto’o fought with everyone. That team also had 40 points, far from a Madrid that added 47. This second round will be more disputed than that.
The great problem of the Valverde team remains its attitude at home, where it has started losing in six displacements. On four of those occasions he went back, but only in Leganés he managed to keep the 1-2. Before Osasuna, Real Sociedad and Espanyol saw how the home team managed to tie at the end. In Bilbao and Granada (1-0 and 2-0, respectively) he did not have the ability to react, and against Levante, a team against which he lost 3-1, he lived the exception: he did go ahead, but he conceded three goals in the second part. In short, the hole outside the Camp Nou is 15 points not earned from the 30 disputed. Too many concessions to conquer the third consecutive League.
In front of Espanyol, nobody understood what happened in the last minutes. Luis Suárez, protagonist of the comeback with a goal and an assist to Arturo Vidal, pardoned 1-3 twice against Diego López. De Jong saw the red for a loss of absurd ball and a second yellow child in the 75th minute. And Valverde decided to remove the only one of the three strikers who sacrificed in defense, Griezmann, to enter Semedo and climb Sergi Roberto to a center of the field in inferiority. The consequence, a long attack of Espanyol with one more against a Barça that only defended with seven when Messi and Suárez were off the hook, without helping in the containment. And goal of Chinese Wu Lei. Once again it became clear that no Barça coach dares to change Messi and Suarez, who ended up more fatigued than Griezmann by joining training last Thursday.
Barça now faces the Spanish Super Cup with little self-criticism, especially after the traditional open-door training that took place this Sunday at the Estadi Johan Cruyff, the headquarters of the subsidiary, annexed to the Esportiva City. Nearly 6,000 children cheered their idols, who face Atlético in Saudi Arabia on Thursday in the semifinal of the Spanish Super Cup. It will be a good time to see if Ernesto Valverde’s team is growing before the big teams because he was only a bit sleepy or if his thing is another season of ‘complacency’ a decade later.