It has been tough few days for all Barcelona fans, as they are still coping to accept that their beloved club would be playing the Europa League for the first time in almost two decades and for the first time since its rebranding. This is a big hit towards Barca’s heritage and prestige; however, it is not just about pride but also about finance. Financially, Barcelona will receive just 5.3 million euros more for winning the Europa League than they would have, had they qualified for the Champions League Round of 16. The times are very bleak and dark for the Catalans however, they will need to make the best of the situation and concentrate more on the league at the moment.
In the Barca vs Bayern Munich post-match interview, Xavi Hernandez was very quick to point out that there is a clear gap of quality between the German side and the Catalan side. Right now, as much as they wish to be on top of the table and in the Champions League, they must accept that they are a mid-table team and they need to build the team up from the ground. As Xavi pointed out, the aim is to win the UCL again, so keeping that in mind, the team must move forward. Currently, the Blaugrana are seventh in the table, six points away from a UCL qualification spot so Champions League football next season is very much a possibility.
However, winning the Europa League would also automatically guarantee them a spot in next season’s UCL. The main teams the Catalans should be wary of are Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, Sevilla and Atalanta. There are a few more dangerous teams present however, Barca is the strong favourites to win the trophy. Right now, the Catalans should focus on either the Europa or La Liga. One of the biggest problems in playing in the Europa is that the number of matches is not reduced but the pay is significantly cut down upon. Thus, fatigue becomes a big problem that the players must tackle. The Europa League could take a toll on the players however, it is a great chance for Barcelona to win another European title and get back into the Champions League in a stellar fashion.
Thus, in conclusion, the Europa League should not be looked at as a downgrade but as a new opportunity to face new teams, new challenges and a new path back into the Champions League. Even the current UCL Champions, Chelsea, played Europa a few seasons ago and that was not the end of the world for them. They went on to win the tournament and came back into the UCL stronger than ever. Barca should embrace this competition and give it their all to make sure they win the trophy and take a big step forward towards winning the UCL in the upcoming seasons.
Will Barca win the Europa League this season?