Lionel Messi made a prediction about FC Barcelona in 2019 which has proven true.
In August 2019, there were simpler and happier times. Sure, the Blaugrana were still sore from losing 4-0 to eventual winners Liverpool at Anfield in a Champions League semi-final second leg clash.
But this was an era when delivering the La Liga title was the minimum and Barca could always aim for the sky when it came to Europe’s most elite club trophy.
Taking the microphone after playing Arsenal in the Joan Gamper trophy which gets a new campaign off to a start each summer, Messi admitted that the last season had “ended with a bitter taste”.
“But we have to give value to La Liga, the eighth we have won in 11 years. That’s important and maybe we don’t give enough value to what we have done,” he added.
“But in a few years we will realise how difficult it was.”
Leo Messi at the Camp Nou back in 2019. pic.twitter.com/6O93xqDlNc
— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) April 19, 2022
It is now chilling how accurate that premonition has proven to be.
Since then, Barca have been no further than the quarter-finals on the continent – where they were beaten 8-2 by Bayern Munich in Lisbon in 2020 and then 4-2 on aggregate by Eintracht Frankfurt last week in the Europa League while outnumbered in their own home – and have not been champions of Spain since.
Should Xavi Hernandez bring the domestic crown home to Catalonia next season, it will then be four years since the Blaugrana could call themselves the rulers of Spain.
Yet how far they have fallen behind bitter rivals Real Madrid in the title race this campaign, while suffering sobering defeats to the likes of Cadiz at home on Monday night, points to how much work there is ahead of the club’s second all-time appearances leader to ensure that the trophy does not stay in the Spanish capital once more as it has done since 2020.
Barca’s haul of eight titles in 11 years marked a golden period in the club’s history, yet if Xavi can get the best out of a promising generation, there is no reason why it can’t be matched or at least challenged.