27th October, 2022
Barcelona president Joan Laporta concedes his side’s premature Champions League exit is a shame but was philosophical about their “young project” under Xavi.
The Blaugrana were officially eliminated and consigned to the Europa League following Inter’s 4-0 win over Viktoria Plzen earlier on Wednesday, before producing a limp home display in a 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich.
Barcelona have been condemned to a group-stage exit for the second straight season, while that comes almost 12 months since Xavi’s appointment to replace Ronald Koeman.
The five-time Champions League winners spent significantly in Xavi’s first off-season at the helm, bringing in Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, Hector Bellerin, Franck Kessie, Marcos Alonso and Raphinha.
Barca’s failure to reach the Champions League knockout stages will have a financial impact on the club, but Laporta was philosophical.
“It’s a shame, but you can’t blame the players or the coach for anything,” Laporta told Barca TV. “We have to look forward, because we have LaLiga and other competitions left.
“This is a young project in which from the beginning we knew we were going to have ups and downs. The league remains and we have to show that we continue.”
The Blaugrana are second in LaLiga after a strong start to the campaign with 28 points from 11 games, three points behind Real Madrid, whose El Clasico victory earlier this month put them top.
“LaLiga is very important and we have it close,” Laporta said. “The message is to look forward. This has already happened.”
Barca’s 3-0 home loss to the German champions marked the sixth straight defeat against Bayern, including the 8-2 Champions League quarter-final rout in 2020.
“Bayern is a consolidated and powerful team, one of the best in Europe and they did not play anything, they left relaxed,” Laporta added.
“For us it was very complicated and the [Inter] game against Plzen was torture, but we still have faith.”
Barca midfielder Pedri was more forthright in his assessment of the side’s elimination.
“For me it’s a failure,” he told Movistar. “We don’t deserve to be in the Champions League, we’ve shown it in games. But we have many competitions to face and give joy to the fans who have been with us at all times.”
This was the first time Barca have been eliminated from the Champions League group stage in back-to-back seasons since the 1997-98 and 1998-99 campaigns under Louis van Gaal.
Madrid will be Spain’s only team in the last 16 with Sevilla, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid all out with a game to spare. The last season Spain only had one team in the knockout rounds was 1998-99, also Los Blancos.