Gareth Bale’s late winner in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona was yet further proof that the Catalonian side are in decline and in need of a major revamp.
The defeat in the Mestella stadium on Wednesday evening epitomised one of the worst weeks in recent years, after being beaten by lowly Granada in the pursuit of the title and dispatched from the Champions League unceremoniously by Diego Simeone’s high-flying Atletico Madrid.
And with problems off the pitch due to recent court cases that have resulted in a transfer embargo, the La Liga holders may struggle to undergo the rebuilding job they so urgently need.
Gerard Martino may have guided them to the title last campaign, but has failed to improve the side from the days of Pep Guardiola and calls for his head amongst the Barcelona support were positively deafening in the aftermath of last night’s loss.
A move for Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp has been widely mooted in the press, but whether the German would want to join a side in such trouble is hugely questionable, especially if Manchester United also register their interest.
Barcelona must fight the transfer ban with all their might, with their current crop struggling to replicate the form of days gone by.
Lionel Messi has looked below par in recent weeks, whilst Xavi and Victor Valdes could also be set to follow club captain Carlos Puyol out of the club.
Puyol’s retirement at the end of the campaign will leave a sizeable hold in need of repairing, and talented though Marc Bartra is the best way of replacing their captain would be to look elsewhere.
The curious case of Messi is growing by the day. He was criticised for yawning during training on Tuesday, and was inconspicuous during Wednesday’s clash, usurped by Bale on the opposite side.
His body language suggests his previously unwavering dedication to the club is beginning to drop. He is still yet to commit to the club beyond his current contract.
Neymar missed a huge chance to draw level with the game in its dying embers, but despite flattering to deceive on many occasions he remains a raw talent and the club’s biggest hope of a brighter future.
But that future now looks a long way off as the Barcelona bubble continues to burst and the Real Madrid machine steps up a gear.
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