Whenever Barcelona suffer a big defeat, our first reaction at Sport Witness is always ‘Great, the Catalan newspapers are going to be fun’.
It’s not a slight on Barcelona, but their local media are, shall we say, a little arrogant sometimes. For years, during the club’s good spell in recent history, they’ve looked down their noses at the rest of football.
That lofty stance also means that when something goes wrong there’s toys out of the pram in all directions. A complete indignation over how such a thing could happen to Barcelona and a general stamping of the feet whilst pointing fingers.
And today, after Barcelona lost 3-0 to Roma and went out of the Champions League, it’s glorious.
Let us start with Sport.
The newspapers front page shouts out ‘FAILURE – NO EXCUSES’.
There’s more, two little front page snippets say ‘Debacle – Barca plays a pitiful game and exits, again, out of the Champions League in the quarterfinals.’
‘No plan – Valverde designed a defensive match and did not know how to react in time to avoid elimination.’
Inside, the first big headline reads simply ‘To cry’.
And then we get to the player ratings.
By all accounts, Samuel Umtiti had a poor game, but the Frenchman has been kicking up a fuss over a new deal recently and that means his hammering has been doubled. Sport give the defender 2/10, the same as Nelson Semedo.
Not one player on the Barcelona team scored higher than 4, with Busquets, Roberto, Iniesta, Gomes, Dembele and Alcacer all getting 3. It’s a little hard on the latter two, given they only came on with a few minutes remaining.
Each player all gets a write-up.
Umtiti’s performance is described as ‘inexplicable’ and ‘incomprehensible’.
Whilst Luis Suarez is half praised for trying hard, Sport say that in football terms he didn’t manage ‘anything relevant’.
Ivan Rakitic was ‘sailing in the middle of the pitch’, and Ousmane Dembele clearly ‘never believed’ Barcelona had a chance of a late goal and it showed all over his performance.
Over at Mundo Deportivo, they’re equally as annoyed.
The Catalan newspaper’s front page reads ‘The fall of Rome’, and the first page inside ‘Historical Debacle’.
Aside from Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (who got 2) every Barcelona player, and their manager Ernesto Valverde, is awarded 1 star out of five.
Each player gets a write-up, Semedo was ‘eaten’ by Roma, Umtiti was ‘disastrous’ which Mundo adding ‘He’s been confused since he began to think more about his renewal than the next game’.
Iniesta was simply ‘sad’, and as for the usual saviour ‘Confirmation that if there is no Messi, there is no Barca’.
There’s even a little cartoon with a woman wondering wondering why her husband hasn’t yet come to bed, to which he answers ‘It cannot happen… I haven’t yet seen Barca take to the pitch’.
All in all there’s a combined 34 pages of sadness and fury across the two Catalan newspapers.
Real Madrid leaning Marca manage to bring Pep Guardiola into their front page, going with ‘Total failure in Europe’ for both Barcelona and Manchester City.
It’s a happy day at Marca.
As for their player ratings, only three of the Barcelona team were deemed worthy of a mark.
AS, another Madrid leaning newspaper, call it an ‘Imperial Failure’ and ‘The Suicide of Rome’.