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    Laporta’s levers are not activated in the Champions League for Barcelona | Sports | The USA Print


    Robert Lewandowski fights for the ball with Stefan de Vrij in the duel between Inter and Barcelona.
    Robert Lewandowski fights for the ball with Stefan de Vrij in the duel between Inter and Barcelona.Antonio Calanni (AP)

    Barcelona’s anguish in the Champions League worsens season after season. Since reaching the top of Europe in Berlin 2015, the Barça team has jumped hit after hit, without remedying whether the MSN (Messi, Suárez and Neymar), Messi alone or Lewandowski commands the field. Nor does it matter if Luis Enrique, Valverde, Setién, Koeman or Xavi Hernández sit on the bench. After the fiasco of last season, when Barça relegated to the Europa League -“It makes me angry to listen to the music of the Champions League and not be there”, Xavi complained-, Joan Laporta’s board of directors looked at the club’s assets to strengthen the first team squad – “Financial levers”, according to the president. Barça sold 25% of the television rights and 49% of Barça Studios and invested around 170 million euros to sign Raphinha, Koundé and Lewandowski. An economic maneuver that, in addition, allowed him to increase the wage bill to register the four players who arrived at zero cost (Christensen, Kessie, Bellerín and Marcos Alonso), plus sign the complicated renewal of Dembélé.

    With the money in the squad, the board looked at Xavi. “Now it depends on the coach,” they assured from the offices. And Barça returned to the top of the table in the League after 91 games; in the Champions League, however, the signings do not start. Koundé went unnoticed in Munich and, injured, was absent in Milan. Raphinha, for his part, has his statistics at zero (he has not scored or assisted) after 125 minutes played. The most striking case is that of Lewandowski. The Pole, Laporta’s franchise signing, sweeps the League -nine goals- and threatened to extend his scoring streak in the Champions League after his hat-trick against Viktoria Plzen at the Camp Nou. But in the two roughest outings of the campaign -Bayern and Inter-, the forward did not say a peep.

    This Tuesday, against Simone Inzaghi’s team, the Pole added 30 interventions. He was the fourth Barça player who touched the ball the least, only three times more than goalkeeper Ter Stegen (27). He left the San Siro with a single shot, without consequences for Onana. Inter’s defensive network took away Lewandowski’s prominence at the same time that it was given to Dembélé. “In the end, it was trying to find the outside”, analyzed Xavi. The problem, for Xavi’s Barça, is that Dembélé only generated three chances for the 38 turnovers he signed. “We’ve been missing having that talent and last pass, the right decision making… to make the right decision. We could have shot more from outside the box. A pity ”, expanded the Barcelona coach.

    Dembélé was the fourth Barcelona player who touched the ball the most times against Inter (100), behind Sergi Roberto (120), Eric García and Pedri (108). A fact that draws attention when compared with the interventions of Busquets (68) and Gavi (41). Barça forgot to cook football in the midfield and gave in to the inspiration of Dembélé, who was out with the muses on an excursion to the San Siro stadium.

    On the other flank, neither the depth of Marcos Alonso nor the incorporation of Raphinha “squared” by Xavi in ​​midfield scared Inter. Much less, Ansu Fati, who when he jumped onto the field only touched 15 balls, only five more than Kessié, still lost in the Barça ecosystem. And if Barça’s attack suffers to prosper in Europe, the defense does not stop adding troops to the infirmary. Christensen fell against Inter -sprained left ankle-, who joins Koundé, Araujo and Bellerín.

    Barça gets into a mess in the Champions League after closing the first round of the group zone. “We have three finals left”, announced Xavi in ​​reference to the matches against Inter and Bayern Barcelona and the one against Viktoria Plzen in the Czech Republic. A sporting and economic burden. La Orejona could bring 52 million to the Barça coffers if they win it (9.6 million for going to the round of 16, 10.6 for being in the quarterfinals, 12.5 for reaching the semi-finals, 15.5 for being a finalist and 4. 5 to the champion). And, Barça, if there is something that is not left over, it is money, now it also seems that football. At least, in Europe, where Laporta’s levers are not activated.

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