Barça plays against PSG, leaving behind an era of hardship

Sometimes it is a good idea to put aside known problems to dwell on what might come next.

When John Laportastuffed into his suit, with his pride and navel first, went to meet the coach Xavi Hernandez In training prior to the capital duel against PSG, in front of dozens of journalists and cameras at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, the president, who always wanted to appropriate the message, knew how to visualize the significance of this Tuesday’s match in Montjuïc. And he did it alone, without subordinates or applauders. Because this Barça hung up on the demands of investors, which continues to look for new business opportunities – although for now it is difficult for it to break with Nike – and still in Olympic exile while the new Camp Nou is taking some shape, has rediscovered in the last days the power of optimism and hope in an industry as volatile and enemy of failure as football.

The Blaugrana play a game from another time against the Parisians, with the opportunity to return to the Champions League semi-finals five years later (the last time they stepped foot in that round was with Ernesto Valverde on the bench, Leo Messi on the field, and he Barça capitulating at Anfield a year after the collapse of Rome). And, although the idea of ​​the virtuous circle has become too old, there is a feeling in the entity that moving forward in the tournament now would mean, now, beginning to leave behind the miseries experienced and born in the triplet that elevated Josep Maria. Bartomeu in 2015. Yes, when that still judicialized government envisioned the construction of an imperial Barça, that of “1,000 million in income”, to end up turning it into dispossession.

Barça won PSG last Wednesday in the unpleasant and artificial Parc des Princes in the first leg of the quarterfinals (2-3) in the best game of the era Xavi. And such was the level demonstrated – in terms of the tactical and physical preparation that allowed Mbappé to be deactivated, the defensive solidarity, the maturity shown in the brief blackout at the dawn of the second act that allowed the French comeback threat, the level of commitment of the old rockers and the irreverence and bravery of the pubescent Cubarsí and Lamine Yamal-, that the club feels prepared to take another step in its recovery. Even though we are aware that PSG, which the Qatari theocracy wants to turn into European champions once and for all, continues to be too dangerous a rival. Even more so with a coach in charge like Luis Enrique, who came to his meeting with the media certain of the uprising: “We are fully convinced that we are going to turn it around.”

Xavi’s redemption

Although those who came out stronger from that stimulating night were the Barça players, the same ones that Xavi insists on putting in the focus. “This is about footballers, not coaches,” the coach insisted from that media pulpit that he still tries to control. But it was Xavi Hernández himself who won the most in that test, despite the fact that he has yet to achieve it in the return duel. From the blackboard, one of his weak points since he took the reins of the Barça bench, he knew how to surpass Luis Enrique, the same one whom he once again praised after the crisis of the appropriation of Barça DNA was supposedly overcome. No matter how much the Asturian threw a buried dickremembering how Ter Stegen was in charge of breaking the lines of pressure with balls towards a bursting Lewandowski in Paris.

Xavi will miss his two footballers sanctioned: Christensen, scorer of the winning goal in the first leg and who was called to take that pivot position that will continue to be left to a withered De Jong -, and Sergi Roberto, the captain, starter at the Parc des Princes and who carries the memory of the comeback against PSG in 2017 (6-1). On the other hand, Pedri, the same one who opened the skies of Paris to Raphinha, feels ready to return to the eleven.

Luis Enrique will be able to plot a much more conventional lineup than in the first leg, with Achraf Hakimi on the right side, the return of Marquinhos to the central position and perhaps with Zaïre-Emery (18 years old) and Barcola (21) as Dembélé’s accomplices , who expects a hostile reception after celebrating his goal in the first leg as if there were no tomorrow, and of a Mbappé who scored three goals (February 2021) the last time he visited Barça.

“We will leave our skin and our lives,” Xavi promised. He, like Laporta, knows that, in this case, The classification can mark the destiny of the club. Hence the hug, always a prelude to crying or kissing. Hence the need for everyone to see it.

2024-04-16 07:00:01
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