Despite setbacks in Europe and the Copa del Rey, Barcelona returned to the top of Spanish football by winning La Liga in 2022/23.
Barcelona are back, but not quite
The Catalans finished the campaign with 88 points, 10 more than rivals Real Madrid and 11 more than third-placed Atlético Madrid. It took four years, a period full of all sorts of problems on and off the field, mostly financial.
The club has often been forced to part ways with big players in its squad in order to cut wage costs as well as offer payroll deductions to those scheduled for new contracts. It was obviously painful for everyone involved with the club when two years ago they failed to find a workable solution to allow Lionel Messi to stay at the club and the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner left for Paris Saint-Germain as a footballer. . free agent. Apparently they’ve been trying to get him back over the past couple of days, but the man himself doesn’t think they all wanted him back and instead he decided to join Inter Miami in MLS.
On the other hand, there are players that Barcelona simply could not get rid of, no matter how hard they tried.
Philippe Coutinho, who turned out to be a waste of money after joining from Liverpool in January 2018, left last summer for Aston Villa on a permanent basis after spending six months on loan there. Also leaving were winger Trincao and striker Memphis Depay, as well as midfielder Nico Gonzalez and defender Sergino Dest, who were loaned to Valencia and AC Milan respectively.
In terms of those who have played for the Blue Garnets, the world is perhaps most impressed by academy alumni Gavi and Pedri, who are widely regarded as the long-awaited heirs of Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, but a closer look at the number of matches played suggests that a large number of players played an important role in this victory. In total, there were 19 players whose total number of appearances in all competitions in the 2022/23 season exceeded the 30 mark.
There can be no doubt that Xavi is a very capable head coach, with a particular knack for making the most of what is at his disposal.
But in order to achieve what they want, where they were when Xavi was still playing, Barcelona need to sort out their financial difficulties and get back on their old paths of glory in Europe as well.
Speaking of those times, the club said goodbye to Xavi’s last two former teammates, with the exception of goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen, who only played a year with the current manager. Gerard Piqué has retired and Sergio Busquets has decided to write the last chapter of his career elsewhere as his contract expires.
Time for change at Real Madrid.
It has long been clear that Real Madrid are likely to lose the title race against a resurgent Barcelona. Although they eventually retaliated by crushing archrivals in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey to win the trophy, they believed they would have another success in their old hunting grounds of the Champions League, but there they met their old nemesis Pep Guardiola. whose Manchester City side eliminated them in the semi-finals. Rarely have a Real Madrid team looked so helpless in a Champions League game and this was probably a strong warning that changes were needed.
For all the qualities of players like Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, it was painfully obvious that they no longer had the speed to counter City’s fast play in the center of the park. Only Carlo Ancelotti knows why Aurelien Chuameni was not trusted to start that game, and Eduardo Camavinga played on the left flank of the defense.
Since Casemiro left the club to join Manchester United last summer along with Rafael Varane and also with the departure of Sergio Ramos, many changes have obviously already taken place, but there are many more to come. Real Madrid have reportedly reached an agreement to sign Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund and the England international, who is under 20, looks set to be the latest part of the midfield recovery as he joins Camavinga, Chuameni and Feda Valverde.
Modric and Kroos are expected to extend their stay in the Spanish capital for another 12 months, although there is no confirmation yet. But the only confirmation that has really come and that will cause some pain to the loyal Los Blancos is the departure of Karim Benzema.
The 35-year-old striker, who played a key role in the team for 14 hugely successful years, has left Madrid for Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad. The club are said to be considering new names to fill the void, one of which is Chelsea’s Kai Havertz.
With Benzema, Busquets and Pique gone, it really feels like the end of an era for the Spanish game. Little is expected to change on the pitch for Barcelona, but it will be interesting for Real Madrid to see how things change from now on.
Sevilla sacrificed a place in La Liga for the sake of continuing glory in the Europa League
Spanish representatives in the Champions League fell short of expectations, but in the Europa League, Sevilla made sure that at least something remained familiar. José Mendilibar led his team to a seventh trophy in the competition, although perhaps at the cost of a 12th-place finish in Spain’s top flight.
There was even a period early on when it looked like they might be in a race to avoid relegation, but they eventually improved their form and just in time to feel more comfortable when it was important for them to stay focused in Europe. Be that as it may, Sevilla are a great quality team and with a bit of smart recruiting in the summer they shouldn’t have that kind of problem anymore.
Valencia and Celta Vigo are teams that will no doubt hope for a better campaign next time as they came too close to losing their top flight status, but Valladolid, Espanyol and Elche ‘There won’t be a chance for that.