Barcelona's tussle with Atletico Madrid ended in a 2-2 draw on Tuesday night but was highlighted by Lionel Messi finally scoring goal No. 700 of his illustrious career. Celebrations are in order but seemed muted by the fact that Messi's side once again failed to gain the needed points in a crucial match. The club seemed to inch closer to losing the La Liga crown.
Rival Real Madrid faces Getafe on Thursday, with Zinedine Zidane's squad heavily favored for a victory. Should that occur, Los Blancos will widen the gap that separates them from the Catalans. Another win for Zidane will push him closer to a title, at Barcelona's expense.
AS said Barca's floundering campaign is to be blamed. The club's last four games cannot be characterized as encouraging. Manager Quique Setien has only led his club to a single victory in the four-game stretch, and he has seemed helpless at times to engineer a stronger finish to the season.
It will come as no surprise that the heat will be on the club boss. The pressure is on him to pick up, but Setien could find it nearly impossible to whip into shape a squad that has been plagued by serious problems since even before he took charge when his predecessor was sacked.
Messi hit a career milestone in Camp Nou but his achievement was overshadowed by Barcelona's meltdown in La Liga. The team might still be wishing that the Little Magician has some tricks reserved he could summon to turn things around, but more likely, the side is in for a disappointment.
The team's dipping fortunes are easy to understand. According to Goal, infighting and financial pressures are pulling Barcelona down.
The division was seen in the way Setien performs his job as the coach. In the game against Atletico, the Barca players were pictured spread out in the team's technical area. It was apparent that Setien's players were intent to observe social distancing than being guided on the things to do on the pitch, the report added.
In contrast, Atletico's Diego Simeone commanded the attention of his squad and no explanation is needed why the match ended not in favor of Barcelona, despite Messi's historic game.
It's noteworthy too that the Catalans have seen their share of mismanagement under club chief Josep Bartomeu. Bartomeu made it his mission that Barcelona will be the team of football superstars and in the process, the side lost its identity.
Most likely, Barcelona under Setien will lose La Liga and one reason could be that he failed to win the support of his players. Goal said the boss will get the ax as expected but it's certain that Setien's exit will not solve the club's lingering problems.