Mbappé opened the ban in Barcelona and the hunt for the Spanish team has started in Europe. The first week and a half of playoffs in the continental competition has been a nightmare for LaLiga teams, with some honorable exceptions. Barcelona, along with Real Sociedad (lost 0-4 to Manchester United), had the most thunderous fall with a Sevilla that experienced a setback with some possibility of settlement (2-3). Same situation for Atlético de Madrid, who fell 0-1 in a game in which they raised the wall against Chelsea. One that was brought down thanks to the exceptional finishing talent of Olivier Giroud, who made the most of Mario Hermoso's bad luck in clearing. All this happened when Real Madrid has yet to come to the fore, facing the first leg against Atalanta with eleven circumstances. For now, Granada and Villarreal saved their pride in the Europa League with their victories against Naples and RB Salzburg in the absence of the return leg.
After mastering last decade in the Champions League with Barcelona winning two titles, Real Madrid, four, Atlético adding two runners-up and the presence of some more guests in the qualifying rounds such as Seville, Valencia and even Malaga, the tables are turning. Only the Europa League, largely dominated by Spanish football (four sevillista and three athletic triumphs from twelve editions disputed, including this one since the name change), remains as a half-refuge this season.
The command of elite European football seems to escape from LaLiga. The new big stars are, for the moment, in other leagues and English football, so suspicious of continental competitions in its early days, is advancing strongly towards the throne with two candidates who are heavyweights: Liverpool already crowned champions in Madrid and a City with a super squad that aspires to a title that has not just arrived because the worst day always caught them in Europe. From France, PSG has touched the last step, Germany has the current champion (Bayern) and a Dortmund that threatens more while Haaland lasts and in Italy, Juventus is less than in other seasons, but they have Cristiano Ronaldo, the best player in the history of the competition. All this, without looking at the benches, whereand the Premier crowds a good part of the 'star system' (Klopp, Pep, Mourinho, Tuchel, Ancelotti …), a notable middle class with Nuno, Bielsa, Rodgers or Hassenhüttl and legends in formation like Solskjaer, Arteta and the recently dismissed Frank Lampard. Germany is behind with Flick as the unexpected architect of the European champion or the Leipzig pairing between Nagelsmann and Rangnick.
“If it's the best LaLiga has to offer, then they are in trouble.”
The results show a reality that now resonates on international sets: LaLiga teams no longer scare like before.
The change is being perceived by everyone. Coaches, players and also, foreign football legends who now debate the game in different media in their countries. Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole were tough on Atlético and Barça after their first leg matches. An idea that Giuly added.
“This is a great reflection of the current poverty of the League, they are not a threat.” Rio Ferdinand was as forceful in the postgame on BT Sports as he used to be on the field. Joe Cole, a former Chelsea player, did not lower his tone. “If it's the best LaLiga has to offer, then they are in trouble.” All the criticisms were directed at the current leader of the competition, Atlético de Madrid.
Both Cole and Ferdinand criticized a defensive Atlético, as always, but much less threatening than on other occasions. “This is not the Atlético de Madrid that we have seen other times,” said the former United. The former Chelsea winger went further in diagnosing what happened. “Chelsea had a smooth night and they did not let Atlético bite. A tactical success. Atleti seemed like a shadow of itself. I thought it was going to be harder (for Chelsea) without Kanté but Chelsea dominated. They controlled possession and led the party. I was surprised that Simeone didn't make changes earlier. I don't see how they can get their hands on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge “, he sentenced.
A week earlier, Cole did not hesitate to point to Messi and Barcelona after raving about Mbappé on the same BT Sports. In addition to accusing the Argentine of a certain 'disinterest', the Englishman clarified that it is not only him, it is the team. “Messi is a leader out there, like Piqué and Busquets. Barcelona's spine seems weak and is falling apart. It was 4-1, but it could have been five or six. These are worrying times in Barcelona,” he said.
Giuly, formerly from Monaco and Barcelona, also moved along that line. “It is true that Barcelona is getting old and is at the end of its cycle. But PSG played the perfect game,” said the Frenchman.
After the Barcelona meeting, it was Koeman himself who made the best diagnosis. “Surely it is a reality check. They have been superior and have shown to have a more complete team. We have to accept it, continue on the same path and improve things. We know that this can happen because they are a great team and that, from experience , and many other things, are ahead of us now. ” A “reality bath” in which several LaLiga teams are getting wet.