This team has not looked worse in years. After probably the worst and most humbling performance since being hammered in historic fashion by Bayern Munich in 2013, CD Leganés had been identified as a match in which culés the world over had expected a thirst-quenching response. And after a fairly straightforward goal within the first five minutes by a seemingly frustrated Lionel Messi, we could be forgiven for expecting a ruthless release of frustration. But it was not to be. Instead, as the game wore on, it seemed this would be yet another complicated evening for Luis Enrique’s men.
Lucho’s men walked into a seemingly empty Camp Nou- deservedly. After all, they had just come from the type of performance that should never be witnessed in blaugrana colors. The hard truth is they had been embarrassed in every aspect against Paris Saint-Germain. From the first minute, Unai Emery’s men played with the kind of desperate energy and hunger that can be witnessed from a truly desperate and hungry side. This was a side that was tired of underachieving on its vision that had been outlined since the inception of its new project. Unai Emery was also a man under much pressure, as his Sevilla FC won the Europa League last season and he had been hired for the club’s European ambitions- his job hinged on this tie, and it showed. Lucho’s men strolled into Paris with a “we’ve been here before” attitude, expecting much of the same from their previous PSG tie’s. And we were out-willed, out-muscled and out-thought in an outstanding thrashing.
After such a horrid embarrassment, many of us still had to go to work or school the next day, where we were mocked out the office or cafeteria. After such a week, we had no reason to tune into this match as these lads did not deserve it. I will be honest. I watched to see nothing less than a 5-0 bloodbath. And after yet another 90 minutes, why is it that I have the feeling that I have wasted my time?
From the moment I saw the awkward left-footed combo of Samuel Umtiti and Jérémy Mathieu, I suspected that this may not be as straightforward as I thought. But hey, MSN right? After Leo’s easy tap in, I got the popcorn ready, assuming to see a lot more. And “more” never came.
Instead, Leganés were given chance after chance, and aside from the goal they scored in the 70th minute, could easily have been 1-2 up (if it weren’t for a handful of excellent saves by Marc-André ter Stegen). Prior to that, the extent of damage the ‘match’ against PSG had done had been on full display. Lucho’s men had taken a huge blow in confidence. After the early strike by Leo, the performance never lived up to the early promise it had shown. Rafinha seemed the only decently bright light, in a truly concerning performance by a side not so long ago feared throughout the Europe.
In the 88th minute, a silly tackle on Neymar cost Leganés a penalty and created a moment of speculation for the match. Messi excellently put it away from the grasp of the Leganés keeper, and in true CR7 fashion, did not celebrate the goal. Although this is uncommon for Leo, who is usually customary to a smile and fingers pointed up above in celebration after each goal, this moment has received the kind of speculation one would expect from English media- that it surely means Messi wants a transfer to join his long lost friend Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. Oh no.
Do we even need to pay the ridiculous nature of such speculation attention? Messi is not going anywhere folks- sorry.
Though the speculation that arose from this moment was pure fantasy, it does let us know the morale of this side, if it’s heart and soul is uncharacteristically not celebrating goals. And that is, that confidence has reached rock bottom. And it does not get any easier from here, with Atlético Madrid up next. Luis Enrique will have to dig the deepest he has had to do his entire coaching career to turn this season around. He has an impossible 0-4 deficit to overturn, not to mention we are somehow placed third in La Liga, with leaders Real Madrid having multiple games in hand. We all know the Copa Del Rey is an after-thought too, so the previously mentioned trophies will be his only barometer of success in what is looking like his final season at FC Barcelona.
These are trying times. The ship seems to be sinking and our fate seems determined. It will take a monumental effort, not just by Luis Enrique, but by Messi and co to turn this season around. With regards to La Liga, we are now approaching the climax of the season in March. This is when the games start coming thick and fast, and Madrid will surely drop points at the top. There is still a slim chance of turning it around. With the upcoming second leg, the MSN trio (in other words, our team) will need to put in a performance for the ages, with Leo Messi, in particular, needing to put in one of the finest nights of his illustrious career if we are to turn this around. But hey, Tom Brady did it at the Super Bowl right? It is not impossible. Implausible, yes. But not impossible. Like Brady, Messi will probably go down as the greatest player in his sport, and athletes of this caliber often prove us wrong with the odds stacked completely against them. That being said, there is something of a déjà vu feeling about this tie. The last time we were humbled 0-4, it was in Munich, similarly with a second leg to follow at Camp Nou. We all know how that ended.
To those of you attending class or work over the next few weeks, may the force be with you. Always remember, if you are reading this, it means you bleed blaugrana colors. Now is not the time to abandon ship like those scumbags who preach ‘MSN’ on social media conveniently during the good times, but are nowhere to be seen today. You are better than that. Hopefully, Lucho and his men are better than what they have shown over the last week too.