The concept of Luis Enrique’s Barcelona winning the league on the final day seemed a far-fetched idea since the loss to Málaga in April. The miracles can seem doable when they are in your hands but when you have to count on a team who have nothing to play for, it’s very difficult to be hopeful. So let’s discuss the final game of the league season and the Luis Enrique era, instead of getting caught up on the loss of the title.
Today’s game seemed to totally sum up the era of Luis Enrique. Barcelona go two goals down, after two brilliant Takashi Inui strikes, to a side that they should breeze past with some ease, missing countless clear cut chances and struggling to control the game. Does this sound familiar at all?
So here we are, two goals down, Barça fans feeling sorry for themselves but many continuing to support the team to ignite a ‘remuntada‘ (it feels like I’ve written that word a thousand times this season). A comeback with a missed penalty, a lack of attractive play and the failure to really dominate the game against ten men, and to top it off, a 35 million euro attacking midfielder playing at right back. It’s madness.
In the stadium, fans are going crazy, flags are being waved. For what? An ‘incredible’ comeback against Eibar, after self inflicting a two goal deficit? Does this sound familiar?
Let’s go back to a couple of key moments this season. The PSG tie. A truly unbelievable achievement to comeback, but the initial damage done was inexcusable. The Juventus loss. Once again, the initial damage done was inexcusable, and this time relying on the comeback miracle wasn’t enough.
The comeback against PSG at the Camp Nou was incredible, but, for me, the fact that a club like FC Barcelona found itself in that position is completely unacceptable, and that’s what it felt like after Eibar went up by two. It feels that we all get so caught up in the nature of a comeback win that we forget to question, why did we even need to comeback in the first place?
But back to the game itself. The team seemed disenchanted, they knew they couldn’t rely on Málaga winning against Real Madrid and seemed to take the match with a pinch of salt, without really caring too much about precision, finishing chances or putting the game to bed. They showed short glimpses of magic, it’s hard not to when you’re a footballer at this club, but never seemed too interested. With the team probably thinking of salvaging the season and giving Luis Enrique a send off with a cup to lift next week, two goals for Lionel Messi and one for Luis Suárez sealed the win but with nothing to celebrate.
It would be harsh and a tad morbid to review Luis Enrique’s last match at the Camp Nou as manager without praising the man. His Barça have always been about the unexpected; killing games in minutes, short bursts of high quality play by the best players on the planet, and, more often than not, euphoria in the end. To lift Barça from their short bad spell, bringing eight trophies and fresh ideas can only be commended, and although I haven’t always been supportive of his decision making and his attitude, I can only thank him for the success that he has brought back to the club.
Thank you Luis Enrique, this game was the perfect send off.