Barcelona confident of qualification
This evening will be a timely indicator in regards to the current state of Barcelona football club with their UEFA Champions League 2nd leg tie against AC Milan being crucial in the definition.
The last few weeks have prompted many people to signal the end of the Catalonian club’s greatest era after a loss in the San Siro and back to back El Clasico defeats.
With a two-goal deficit awaiting them at the Nou Camp tonight, this match could easily define the club’s current state, with the task ahead of them an unusual one to say the least, and something they have rarely encountered.
Things haven’t gone according to plan in 2013 with a wealth of odd results and unfortunate occurrences happening off the pitch, which has led to the claims of the great Barcelona side of previous slowly fizzling away.
Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi disagrees and told the Daily Express: “We are not in crisis. We have fallen to Milan and Real, two great clubs. Admittedly we have not played well, but against the Italians we still have 90 minutes to turn the situation around
“We can do it. This club have shown on numerous occasions that we are able to overcome any obstacle and now our main challenge is to beat Milan.
“We want to achieve a lot this season and we cannot afford to fail. We need to go back to being the usual Barca from earlier in the season. If we recover our style of play and do things right then we will be able to.”
With previously mentioned El Clasico defeats and other results, off the pitch matters haven’t helped with problems surrounding coach Tito Vilanova’s personal health, who is currently being treated in New York for his ongoing battle with cancer, putting things into perspective, particularly with the realisation that the problems on the pitch mean little in comparison.
However, defensively, Barcelona have been shoddy of late with Saturday’s 2-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna their first clean sheet in 14 games.
If the possibility of being unable to overturn the deficit they face against Milan comes to fruition, it will be the first time the La Liga outfit have failed to reach the semi-finals of the competition in six seasons.
Barcelona have seen a change in emphasis and performance since the absence of Vilanova, with stand-in Jordi Roura proving unable to maintain the successful tactical integration, ball retention and intense work rate in closing down which this side are famous for.
However, midfielder Iniesta said: “We will make it through. We have to play as if it was a final. That has to be our mentality, from first to last.”
With the task in hand a somewhat alien scenario for the great side, tonight will be a big test of the club’s mental strength and desire to showcase their talent and prowess on the big stage and it could be a defining chapter in modern football simply for that reason.