From Lionel Messi's "we'll lose against Napoli playing like this" to Ronald Koeman's "we're closer to beating a big side all the time." Phrases that more than one Barcelona fan may not like, but that reflect the feeling of those following the club closely. Because the reality right now is that Barça have to accept that for the moment they have to take things step by step.
There's a long time between the two phrases but time hasn't healed Barça's problems. The Clasico defeat on Sunday was another sign that they struggle when they face a 'big side.' They can't create many chances and they suffer when they're forced to defend. And, worst of all, the opposition don't have to be at their very best to win the game. Real Madrid didn't need to be at their best this weekend.
"We're pissed off because the result is not fair," said Eric Garcia after the game.
That's the view from the players, who try with everything they have available, but keep seeing themselves beaten by 'big sides.' Just this season, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Benfica and now Madrid. Football, at the end of the day, is decided in the two boxes and since Koeman's been on the bench Barça have not delivered.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen's goal is not bolted shut and Barça are not convincing in attack. Koeman's side, since he took over, have played 16 games against sides considered 'big' (Sevilla, Atlético and Real Madrid plus the big Champions League sides) winning just three of them. They have drawn three and lost 10. The victories have come against Sevilla in LaLiga and the Copa del Rey last season and against Juventus in the Champions League group stage, also last term.
Vanishing clean sheets
The drama doesn't end there. In those 16 games, Barça have only kept four clean sheets, conceding 27 goals vs. 13 scored. In the four big games played this season (Bayern, Benfica, Atlético and Real Madrid), they scored just once and conceded 10 times.
The numbers are awful but they serve to illustrate the situation at the club at the moment. Games against Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain at home or away at Benfica are just some of the games where they have been wounded. Wounds that, little by little, affect the morale of the team.