Saturday's 1-0 loss away to Granada left Barcelona's season hanging by a thread. Compiled by Wednesday's exit from the Champions League at the hands of league rivals Atletico Madrid, the golden years of Pep Guardiola seem like decades ago.
The players, though, have mixed views. Captain Carlos Puyol has said the team will support manager Gerardo Martino 'to the death', whilst fellow defender Martin Montoya thinks the side are 'mentally screwed up.' Even Andres Iniesta knows the team have taken a backwards step. Ahead of their last chance to grab silverware tomorrow night, where do Barcelona go from here?
Now, Bayern Munich coach Guardiola guided the Catalans to non-stop success, winning 14 titles in four years, playing the perfect football. Martino, in contrast, has become the first manager since 2007 not to have lead Barcelona to the last four of the Champions League, coming under intense scrutiny. Their opponents on Wednesday, Real Madrid, are enjoying a much more prosperous season under Carlo Ancelotti. They sit ahead of Barca and just three points behind league leaders Atletico.
When Guardiola came into the club as first-team coach, he got rid of the big stars, some of whom refused to train with the rest of the side, and gained the confidence of their best players, most notably four-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi. Martino has been too afraid to rid the side of deadwood, and he won't have the chance now following the latest transfer saga.
Not only is their season falling apart but their reputation is too. Following the revelation of where Neymar's fee went in the summer and now their ban for breaching transfer rules on the signing of players under 18, Barcelona have now become notorious in the market.
Martino would like a defender and a new goalkeeper in the summer, but finds himself making do with the squad he has got. Whether he will even be in the dugout at the beginning of next year remains to be seen.
If he is, he needs to present himself as a stronger and calmer presence in the face of adversity and produce the class of football many know his side are capable of. If he doesn't do this ahead of an on fire Madrid attack on Wednesday, we may have our answer.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms