According to Goal, It’s been a week since Barcelona’s humiliating loss in El Clasico, but the Blaugrana can no longer mope.
They will face Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday, in a match that feels like it has much more on the line than just a trophy on the line.
The outcome may have far-reaching implications for the club’s future.
If Barcelona fails to perform at La Cartuja in Seville, it will almost certainly spell the end for coach Ronald Koeman, and it may also be the straw that breaks Lionel Messi’s (or should that be GOAT’s?) back.
Messi has the option to leave Camp Nou for free at the end of the season, and despite new president Joan Laporta’s overtures, he has yet to decide on his next move.
Winning an award, even if it was third on the goal list at the start of the season, would at the very least indicate that the club is moving forward.
Under the former Netherlands coach, Barcelona has lost in almost every big game this season. K
Last weekend, Koeman was left reeling by his team’s second Clasico defeat of the season, as well as a loss in La Liga to Atletico Madrid, with the rematch scheduled for May.
In the Champions League last 16, they were thrashed 4-1 by Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou, guaranteeing their swift exit and, once again, the end of Messi’s European dream.
Despite a 2-0 group stage victory over Juventus in Turin, Koeman’s side were defeated 3-0 at home by the Bianconeri, relegating them to the second position in the group and setting up their meeting with Mbappe, Neymar, and co.
In January, they lost 3-2 in extra time in the Spanish Super Cup final to Athletic, and in the Copa semi-final first leg, they were defeated 2-0 by Sevilla.
The 3-0 second-leg victory over Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla at Camp Nou, in the midst of a fine run of form, with morale high and wind in Barca’s sails, was an exception to the norm.
According to Deportes Cuatro, a worried Jordi Alba told Gerard Pique after the Clasico loss, “I don’t know if we’ll win [the Copa].” Pique responded, “Relax, we’ll win it,” but Alba remained uncertain.
The final on Saturday is an ideal opportunity for Koeman to put his fear behind him, put these results behind him, and begin to show president Laporta that he has what it takes to lead a trophy-hungry club.
If Barcelona loses to Athletic, it would almost certainly put an end to their title hopes, cementing the damage done by Real Madrid last weekend by squandering their confidence and momentum.
If Koeman does not leave Andalusia with the King’s cup, his post-Clasico antics, such as walking away with an umbrella in the rain like an irate holidaymaker after taking offense at a pitch-side interview, will become the defining picture of his reign.
Even though he publicly backed Koeman, Laporta arrived as president considering his options for replacing him at the end of the season, including club legend Xavi Hernandez.