Montjuïc, punishment and relief for Xavi Hernández’s Barcelona | Soccer | Sports

Ter Stegen, Curbasí, Gündogan and Christensen, after a goal by Granada in Montjuïc.Associated Press/LaPresse (Associated Press/LaPresse)

“For better and for worse, lucky that we are in Montjuïc.” The phrase comes from the box of the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium. One of the managers who usually does not miss any Barça game assures that the temporary house on the magic mountain benefits the Catalan entity. A situation that paradoxically helps Xavi’s team, as well as the board. “It is true that it is a cold and distant stadium. When the team is doing well, you don’t hear the support of the people. It is not a field in which the stands press. But he is not belligerent in bad times either,” adds the same source. Furthermore, since season ticket holders are not kept in the same seats day after day, complicity is not created among the fans. Another kind of fortune for Joan Laporta and for Xavi. “When you are always with the same people, you build trust and you free yourself. Now, since the fans don’t know each other because you are always with new teammates, at least it doesn’t increase their anger against us or against the coach,” they conclude in the offices.

Last season, the average crowd at the Camp Nou was 83,486 spectators (99,354 capacity). That is, 84% capacity. This campaign, the average has dropped to 41,215 (49,472). 83%. On the day of the classic, however, attendance was 50,112. “Low visibility seats were put up for sale,” the club explains. In relative terms, nothing has changed much at Can Barça. However, the fans that support the Blaugrana have been reduced by practically 50%. “The team’s play doesn’t help either,” complain from the offices, which are already beginning to say that the losses from the move to Montjuïc will be higher than the 55 million they had calculated at the beginning of the season. “We do everything possible to fill the stadium, but the situation is what it is,” insist the same sources. The cold of the Olympic Stadium is manifested at the box office as well as in the statistics of Xavi’s boys.

In 2024, Barcelona is the team in the five major leagues that has conceded the most goals at home: 23, ahead of Frosinone (22, 14 in the Serie A table) and Cagliari (18, occupying second-to-last position in the Italian league). Not even Ter Stegen, who returned after more than three months of absence, was able to stop the lack of control in Barcelona’s defense. The locker room points to the sports direction. “No replacement was found for Busquets, who was the one who provided balance. And there are a lot of young people on defense,” explains one of the group’s heavyweights. The coaching staff aligns their players. “The squad this season is worse than last year. Reinforcements were requested that were not brought and others arrived that we did not need,” they say. This season Barça has conceded 50 goals in 35 games (1.42 per duel). Last year, 46 in 53 (0.86).

In the sports area they do not coincide with the analysis of the staff and the locker room. “We made a great effort. They know there is no money. That is why it is not understandable that they excuse themselves because they asked Kimmich and Bernardo Silva,” they respond to the coaching staff, at the same time they reply to the players: “Many are already thinking about the Euro Cup.” The anger of the board with the players is not new. In fact, the day Xavi announced that he would not continue at Barcelona next season, the day of the defeat in Montjuïc against Villarreal (3-5), the sports commission was more upset with the players than with the coaching staff. But Xavi went ahead. “He has left us in a position of weakness,” they remark in the offices.

Despite Laporta’s anger in the box after the draw against Granada, the board is committed to the continuity of the Catalan coach. The focus is on the Champions League tie against Naples. “We will see later,” they explain in the directive. Laporta understands, in any case, that firing Xavi does not release the pressure on the board, on the contrary. If the sports management does not get the replacement right, the fans’ anger could be turned against the president. A fear that grips the board. And this campaign the board negotiated the pressure from Les Corts. “Can you imagine what it would have been like this year at the Camp Nou?” asks a manager, with relief. Montjuïc, in short, punishment and consolation for Barça.

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