Another night and another defeat in a big game for FC Barcelona this season.
As difficult as it may be to accept, Barcelona's glorious cycle may be coming to a short and painful end.
And they have only got themselves to blame. Remember that famous 5-0 against Real Madrid or the 3-1 victory over Manchester United in the Champions League final? So what has gone wrong for the Catalan outfit?
The most obvious problem relates to FC Barcelona's failure to land another centre back for the second season running. With the appointment of Tito Vilanova, many had hoped that Barcelona would land a world class defender to replace the ageing Carles Puyol.
But a failure to learn from their mistakes resulted in the purchase of Alex Song instead (voted as one of the worst signings of the season). Although, Song performed admirably in the games he played there was always doubts over his abilities and he has seen his chances limited lately.
The notion that Song was signed as an alternative to Sergio Busquets was predicated on his ability to double up as a back-up centre-back.
But plugging gaps in the squad with makeshift midfielders is never a good idea.
Barca are leaking goals, and their squad depth at centre-back is worryingly lacking. Fingers have to be pointed at the president and club hierarchy for not providing enough funds in the summer transfer window to land players like Thiago Silva or Mats Hummels.
Their defence has been their Achilles heel for years, even under Pep Guardiola, so failure to strengthen in that department has made Barcelona significantly less of a threat than previous years.
The constant inclusion of Alexis Sanchez is also a mystery. Sanchez has been woeful all season but still he's been surprisingly ahead of David Villa in the pecking order. Villa is a proven goal scorer for club and country but finds himself behind the clumsy, clueless and contagious Sanchez.
Tito Vilanova’s Barcelona are storming to another La Liga title having made the best-ever start to a league season in his first campaign as manager.
However, Barca have been eliminated from the Copa del Rey albeit at the semi-finals, and are on the verge of elimination from the Champions League at the last 16 stage for the first time since 06/07.
Of course, overturn the deficit against AC Milan and all will be forgotten. But Barcelona must not fail to address their defensive deficiencies again this summer if they want to return to the summit of European football.
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