Is winning the Europa League Barcelona’s first step towards redemption?

Barcelona has hit yet another low as they take on Napoli in UEL.

 It’s been a tough week for all Barcelona fans, as they are still coping with the fact that their club will be playing in the Europa League for the first time in almost two decades and for the first time since its remodelling. It is also a big hit towards Barcelona’s prestige; however, it is not just about pride but also financial loss. Barcelona will get 14.9 million euros if they win the Europa League, but this amount is nothing compared to the amount the teams in the knockout stages will get.

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Barcelona appears as one of the favourites to win the title, according to Betfair, who predicted Sevilla’s triumph. However, as Xavi said, there is a clear gap between top clubs such as Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Manchester City and Barcelona in terms of quality and intensity required to compete in club football’s biggest competition. Barcelona is eighth in the league after Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Osasuna, which means in the coming weeks, Xavi will need to make improvements and win maximum points possible in the LaLiga to keep their hopes alive for a top-four finish.

Winning the Europa League will automatically guarantee them a spot in next season’s UCL. But the Catalan outfit will need to overcome Napoli first in their Round of 32 fixture. If Barcelona advance to the next round, the teams the Blaugrana should be wary of are West Ham, Sevilla and Dortmund. The problem for Xavi and co. will be the fitness of players. Europa League is played on Thursdays, which won’t allow players to recover well for league games during the weekend. Fatigue will be a major issue for Barca, considering half of the players are below the age of 23.

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As Thomas Muller said, “I don’t think they can cope with that intensity. Technically they have it all, and they have some really good players. There’s no question about that, but we can deliver this intensity both in possession and out of possession. I don’t think they can cope with the intensity in top-level football.” This might hurt the Barca fans, but this is their beloved club’s reality. A young and inexperienced squad like Barcelona will suffer against giants like Bayern, Liverpool, City or any top club. Nico, Gavi, Abde, Balde all are talented individuals but lack the exposure to sustain in Europe’s biggest competition. The mental and physical preparation required for a Champions League game is completely different.

Currently, Barcelona should focus on LaLiga to build their momentum back to prevent yet another setback in Europe. President Laporta has promised reinforcement in the January transfer window, most likely the signing of Ferran Torres will be done to rejuvenate Barca’s attack. According to reports, one more attacker will be signed by Barca if possible as Sergio Aguero is set to retire and Luuk de Jong is going back to Sevilla. The expectations from Xavi will be high in the next few weeks as Barcelona have some.  

 Easy fixtures as domestic cup competitions start in January.

Image Credits: ESPN.com

In conclusion, the Europa League shouldn’t be looked down but as the next step to come back into the UCL stronger than ever. The current UCL Champions, Chelsea, played in the Europa League a few years back and won the tournament and came back to win the UCL in just two years. Barcelona should embrace this opportunity to get back into winning ways in Europe and take a big step forward towards winning the Champions League in upcoming seasons.

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