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Lessons from Cibeles for an injured Barça

BarcelonaFlorentino Pérez had reason to break his usual media silence. He had won the sixth Champions League as president of Real Madrid, equaling the famous Santiago Bernabeu, after a superb performance by Thibaut Courtois in another show of football esotericism, this time with the powerful Liverpool as a victim. The white president, huddled in the Saint-Denis box office, a stadium of good memory in Barça’s imagination, expressed a joy as sincere as it was contained: he is more than letting go in private. However, he did not miss the opportunity to send a clear and forceful message from the continental zenith, days after seeing Kylian Mbappé leave him with a sniff. “Madrid is a club of members, a club with values, and that’s why I’m even happier,” said Florentino, who has been obsessed with fighting state clubs for several years with initiatives such as the Superliga and is aware that, despite accumulating more Champions than anyone in recent years – 6 of the last 9 – their dominant role is in danger due to the profit and loss accounts doped by the great fortunes of teams such as PSG and Manchester City.

In this struggle that also questions estates such as the League, UEFA and FIFA, Madrid goes hand in hand with Joan Laporta’s Barça and Andrea Agnelli’s Juventus. But the white club is the only one that has been able to allow the rebellious spirit without jeopardizing the sporting results. In fact, not even the most optimistic meringues could have imagined that the season would end with a League-Champions double months after losing sight of an idol like Zinedine Zidane, the father of the successful 2016-2018 triennium, and settling down. with the return of Carlo Ancelotti, a coach who seemed to be back, to lead a continuous project with the only notable novelty of the relief in the axis of the defense after the departures of Sergio Ramos and Raphaël Varane. The Madrid team did not need Gareth Bale to stop prioritizing golf or Eden Hazard to look like a usable player. The best version of Karim Benzema, who has everything in mind to win the Golden Ball at the age of 35, has had enough; the definitive explosion of the young Vinícius, the saving appearances of Courtois, the forcefulness of the duo Militão-Alaba and, importantly, the extra life of a trio of midfielders that is repeated in all European successes since 2016. Casemiro, Kroos and Modric have once again been the tail of a team with more competitive genes than concrete game plans. Especially the Croatian, who is approaching 37 years old, represents an example of well-managed maturity.

While Madrid, copying renewals linked to performance, continues to squeeze the talent and veteranism of a dominant generation in Europe – at the same time as legends such as Ramos (2021) and Marcelo (2022) emerge – Barça still pays the consequences of the salary overdraft he incurred after the escape of Neymar (2017). The Barça club resigned from Leo Messi, but they have not yet found the ideal formula to breathe new life and stop accusing the backpack of the contracts of Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Samuel Umtiti. In fact, in his struggle to get it fair play financial and, thus, to be able to redo the sports project, the board of Laporta may have to ask again in favor of these footballers to space payments, as happened both last summer and in the last winter market . The economic hardships of the club pollute the day to day of the Camp Nou and condition the plans for the future. There is no possible revolution or side effects without side effects. Two months have passed since the lavish 0-4 first team in the classic and not only has the Xavi effect been gone, but the eternal rival, with a copy of aura and mysticism, has sent Barcelona en masse to the cave, in the corner of thinking. He I want to see you again it was nothing more than an electoral slogan: it has not aged well in the context of the extreme structural weakness that current Barça suffers.

The peremptory need for good news

A fragility that Laporta described last week in a disturbing interview with The Sports. The president, with few hairs on his tongue, charged against the rules of economic control of the League, threatened “drastic measures” on contracts in force and criticized Iván de la Peña, Gavi’s agent, for putting the renewal of the young Andalusian uphill. All in all, with the economic area pressing for the club to accept once and for all the agreement with the CVC fund, the same one that was rejected last summer to justify the departure of Messi, and the incumbent Moussa Sissoko, representative of Ousmane Dembélé, using the protection of Xavi with the Frenchman to continue aspiring to a millionaire contract that causes stomach aches to the football director, Mateu Alemany. The week is born with a new Champions in the windows of the remodeled Bernabéu and the peremptory need for good news in a Camp Nou that is falling apart.

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