When one watches the current Barcelona team play, there is a general feeling of unfulfilled potential and what could have been.
The Blaugrana made a very poor start to the season but were handed some leeway when they put together a consistent run between January and March. That run culminated in Copa del Rey glory and brought them back into the title race. However, Barcelona haven’t done much since then to keep up the pace.
While Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are finishing the season strongly, Ronald Koeman’s side has now failed to win any of their last three league matches, the latest being a 2-1 defeat to Celta Vigo.
Sloppy performance from Blaugrana
With just one more game to end their La Liga campaign, Barcelona have slipped to third. They could even end the season in fourth if they fail to win their last match.
A lot has been said about how the club’s standards have fallen. Their performance against Celta Vigo summarized how far the Blauragana currently are from the other elite European clubs.
Koeman named an attacking side but a look at the starting line-up showed a team not ready to compete at the very top. Aside from Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Jordi Alba and to some extent Ousmane Dembele, all the other players were relatively inexperienced.
Ronald Araujo, Ilaix Moriba and Pedri are talented youngsters with a lot of potential, but the fact that they are now starters shows the lack of options in the team.
Celta Vigo were clearly the better and more clinical side, taking advantage of Barcelona’s sloppy performance. In the end, Messi's opening goal was not enough as the visitors came from behind to win 2-1.
Messi masterclass not enough as Barcelona miss out on La Liga
For almost a decade and a half, Barcelona have depended on Messi. The Argentine has often delivered but now they need more than his magic.
Even in a season where Messi has netted 30 times in La Liga alone, Barcelona are still not good enough to win the league. He’s been the sole shining light at the Camp Nou and his departure could spell doom for the club. Club manager Ronald Koeman is pretty much aware of that.
"We hope [that Messi doesn't leave] because he is still the best player in the world and he has demonstrated today that it is impossible to play without him," Koeman said after the defeat to Celta Vigo, as quoted by Marca.
"He has now scored 30 goals which have given this team many points. It is a question for him.
"For me and the club, we hope that he continues with us because, if we don't have him, we have doubts over who will score as many goals," Koeman concluded.
A month ago, there was a genuine belief among Barcelona fans that the club could actually win La Liga. However, as their title bid officially ends, it is obvious that they can no longer rely on Messi alone to deliver trophies.