Fallout to be remembered
Yesterday’s collapse by FC Barcelona in the Champions League Seminfinals versus Liverpool FC at Anfield in England was among the most terribly epic results that have ever materialized in the history of European club competition. Let’s just get that off the table right now. There are approximately zero people who predicted that this was going to happen, especially given the fact that this kind of catastrophe befell Barça last year at the hands of AS Roma. However, the harshest criticism of a team native to Spain will never come from me or anyone else in the English-speaking world. It will come from the home country. And, oh, did the vitriol spill from the pages of Spain’s top newspapers.
Diario Sport, one of two sports newspapers in Catalonia, the region of Spain that contains Barcelona, kicked it off with a black page with a verdict of condemnation in yellow: “The biggest embarrassment in history.” We Americans might find that a bit harsh, but understand that soccer in Europe is just a step down from religion. Think about how the U.S. feels about football and then multiply that feeling by five.
Diario Sport went on to defend its judgment by pointing out that this forgettable night in Liverpool is not the first embarrassment FC Barcelona has suffered in their history. For instance, Barça shamefully lost a Champions League final in Seville – basically home turf – on penalties to Steaua Bucharest, and then lost another final in wretched fashion – 4-0 – to AC Milan in Athens.
So even after a decade and a half of triumph that has seen Barcelona take home four Champions League titles in an 11-year span, it seems that the dark days of Barcelona’s former struggles are returning.
Diario AS, the other Catalonian sports newspaper, pointed out that there have been four humiliating defeats away from home in just the past three years of Champions League competition: Paris (4-0; 2017), Turin (3-0; 2017), Rome (3-0; 2018), and now the humiliation of a 4-0 defeat in Liverpool. This most recent drubbing tops these other three as this was a game to win a place in the Final.
El Pais, Spain’s biggest newspaper (like the New York Times or the Washington Post here in America), even jumped on the flogging train, running the headline “Disgrace in Anfield.” And Marca, traditionally the mouthpiece of arch-rival Real Madrid, concluded with the headline “Historic flop,” as a way of characterizing how abysmal the performance was.
The latest loss in more humiliating than any of the other heartbreaks Barcelona has suffered is because Liverpool was short two of its top three strikers (Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah), which should’ve made this a cakewalk for Barça.
But it wasn’t, and as a proud Real Madrid fan, I couldn’t be happier.