Xavi's side went down 2-1 after Lewandowski scored the opener from the penalty spot

Manchester push Barca to fourth European failure in two years

photo_camera FAFP/OLI SCARFF - Manchester United's Brazilian midfielder Fred (R) shoots and scores his team's first goal during the second leg of the UEFA Europa League knockout round between Manchester United and FC Barcelona

The "Negreira effect" is not working in Europe. Barça is tainted for life by payments to the vice-president of the referees for almost 20 years. We will never know if that helped them to win leagues or cups.  

While someone at the club is looking for the perfect excuse to explain this behaviour over the years and presidents, the club is resurrected on the basis of levers for a lamentable financial management.  

Europe is not Spain. Competing beyond our borders has become a much more competitive enterprise and 200 million euros in transfers does not work miracles. Barça may need the Superliga to clean up its ailing finances, but, until that happens, it needs to stop collecting failures.


Two years on, Xavi's Barça have been knocked out of the Champions League twice and the Europa League twice. Some say that next season will be the definitive one with their assault on their real competition, the Conference League.  

Joking aside, the new Barcelona of Laporta and Xavi are specialists in finding the silver lining in defeats. From that Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid which they celebrated by playing well to losing at Old Trafford to Manchester United and ensuring that they are already thinking about the next game against Almeria.


Winning La Liga is the smokescreen and the golden curtain that can save the season. Given the economic and social state in which the club finds itself, that "the ball goes in", as the football experts would say, is the best remedy.  

Xavi arrived in Manchester with casualties. Dembélé and Pedri are too important and the coach is not able to adapt the system to the new players. Lewandowski scored a goal after a penalty against Balde that some thought Negreira himself had whistled.  


Ten Hag is living a second youth at Old Trafford after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. There is talk that he prepared this match with Ferguson at a dinner a few days before. The English club wants to return to the top flight and winning the Europa League would be the right way to go now that they are sitting pretty at the top of the Premiership.  

Fred scored the equaliser just after the break. Antony scored the second and revolutionised his team who made the second half their own without giving Barça a chance. Xavi brought on Fati and Alonso in the final period to see if the flute would play.


The coach will get Fati out of the club with the treatment he has decided to give him. The heir of Messi's 10 is a player adrift who does not find in the coach a guide to return to be that scorer that was intuited and his environment is already thinking about getting him out of there.  

Barça's trip to Europe is over. The club had perfectly budgeted that it would not last long and, by all accounts, this new debacle will only be a loss of 5 million euros.


The league is the big target, even the Cup for what it means to beat Real Madrid in the semi-finals. Barça's aspirations have changed and they can be thankful that they are fighting for titles after all, whether they do so with artificial competitiveness is another matter.