The image of this Barça side is disappointing and sad. They won thanks to a penalty "made in VAR" but the whistles were heard and the white handkerchieves were seen. The football hasn't convinced anybody and only Lionel Messi's goals are keeping this team alive. Under Setien, nothing has changed. We can't fool anybody and the objective of winning trophies appears difficult. Messi was right.
The crisis at Barça isn't only down to the current directive but it's also down to the crisis in confidence of the team's style of football. Mistakes have been made in the offices but on the pitch, the players are giving their all either. They aren't producing performances you'd expect of players on multi-million euro contracts. They can't be proud of their season. There are, of course, certain factors which have influenced that too. Poor planning, long-term injuries and a change in coach when they were leading the way. But all of that doesn't excuse a squad which has lost its potential, personality and effort.
Messi and company have given plenty of titles, success both domestically and in Europe, and they've become the backbone of this prestigious Barça side of the last decade. The problem now is they have too much power and aren't working hard enough, or perhaps they are too old. Real Sociedad proved that. Barça are no longer the best, no longer the untouchables. The more recent signings haven't been good enough either. Griezmann is a good player but isn't elite and certainly isn't worth €135m. De Jong is frustrating because he promised a lot but is falling into mediocrity. Setien needs to demand more from his players, more effort and courage out on the pitch.
Things are becoming so bad at Barça that even the 'sacred cows' are happy to take aim at those above them. Messi said: "Today we aren't good enough to win the Champions League." And after the last few matches, you have to say he was right. Busquets has also complained about the sporting department's planning. Pique said it was it the team that was keeping Barça at the top. Another hard truth. The divorce between the team and the boardroom appears at the point of no return. The boardroom gave too much to them, the players feel untouchable and the president has a lot of work to extinguish all of the fires. Setien has also succumbed to the demands of the veteran players and his declarations when he signed now appear a distance memory.
There are so many doubts about this team that even Messi has faced criticism. He's still the best player but his game has lost that element of danger. He also appears unhappy. It's tough to see him coming off the field with his head down, deep in thought. They beat La Real but there was plenty to talk about in the dressing room. Leo knows more than anybody that this team isn't on the right path.