The victory for Barcelona on Sunday, February 6, was a shot in the arm for head coach Xavi and the 26-time La Liga winners. Against the reigning champions, the Catalan giants put up an inspired performance to come back from one goal down to score four goals in 40 minutes at Camp Nou. Jordi Alba with an extraordinary volley scored the equaliser before Gavi, Ronald Araujo and Dani Alves added a goal each.
It was a statement victory that sees Barcelona return into the top four for the first time since September, with Atletico now two points behind in fifth. When Xavi took over, Barcelona was ninth in the league, a good number of points below Atletico Madrid. However, this victory took them past Atletico with the Madrid club now two points behind in fifth.
Speaking after the victory, former Valencia and Barcelona midfielder Gaizka Mendieta insisted that Barcelona should aim for the Champions League place finish because they need it.
“Realistically, it’s Champions League whether it is, fourth, third, second, is a good chance to, to get close to Real Madrid or whoever is in is leading the table by the end of the season."
“Not only because you want Barca to be there, but also financially, they need both," he added.
Barcelona, a year back was in a world of trouble financially that saw Lionel Messi leave the club after 21 years of association. Even many players were forced to take pay cuts to fit in the new recruits under La Liga’s FFP policy. Last December, it was reported that the Spanish giants are in debt to the tune of €1.35bn. Despite that, Barcelona made one big-money signing in the form of Ferran Torres from Manchester City and during his presentation, club president Joan Laporta said “Barcelona are back", meaning they would be competing for the game’s best players next summer.
What’s the reality no one knows. However, if Barcelona manages to qualify for next year’s UCL, they will earn around 15.5m euros (2021/22 figure), plus the television money.
Barcelona is alive in only one other competition — UEFA Europa League — after getting knocked out of the Copa Del Rey last month. There is a 12 point gap between them and Real Madrid at the moment and until something drastic happens the Blaugranas are out of the race. If Barcelona manages to win their maiden UEFA Europa League, then they’ll bag an amount close to 8,600,000 euros just for winning the trophy plus television money along with a guaranteed place in the Champions League.
“I think right now, a team like Barca, which is familiar with winning trophies, and that’s why they got the players they have…without thinking about winning trophies, should focus on securing Champions League football. I think it’s a massive, massive target for them."
Buoyed by the victory over Atletico Madrid, Barcelona will look to carry the momentum when they take on Espanyol next in the La Liga, before facing Napoli in the Europa League knockout stage.