The most worrisome aspect of Barça's draw with Inter Milan at the Camp Nou last Wednesday and this Sunday's defeat against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu is again, as in the last few seasons, the sensations you are left with. The inability of a team to overcome adversity when it is most necessary because the stakes are high - the three Champions League games, two against Inter and the one in Munich against Bayern, in which Barça only ended up with one point of a possible nine - or when the rival is an opponent of substance, like the one in this weekend's league match.
The financial effort to have a quality squad, even at the cost of putting the club in hock, given the economic situation inherited by the current board of directors, is a long way away from yielding the expected results. There are players but no team, to put it in a nutshell. And the result is that, for the second year in a row, Barça might be eliminated from the Champions League in October, right at the start - which will happen if the stars don't come into alignment, something that, frankly, no one expects anymore - and with all that means for the club's image and giving up as lost the income it hoped to recover from the top European competition. The only European sporting goal would then be the Europa League.
Barça is a soft and characterless team, poorly structured on the pitch, stranded halfway between continuing to play with the team's sacred cows and committing itself decisively to a thorough renewal, unable to transform its shape on the field of play if the result is adverse and too predictable for the opponents. The coach, Xavi Hernández, of whom expectations were probably too high, with the memory of Pep Guardiola always present, has not yet been able to turn around the mentality of the team and the evolution has been similar to that of his players: from more to less.
The season, obviously, is not lost. There's a lot at stake and too many games ahead to talk about throwing in the towel. But many things will have to change, starting with the team's attitude, which leaves much to be desired in many players. Because the reality of the team is not the names in the squad, nor the titles they have on their backs, but the commitment, the ability to reverse this situation, the leadership and the professionalism. Because against Real Madrid you can win or lose - last year the result at the Bernabeu was 0-4 - but the image of a team roaming the field for most of the game, except for the last 10 minutes, against a fairly mediocre Madrid, is the fault of the coach alone.
It is clear that he has a margin of confidence to reverse the situation, but things must start to change and Barça cannot afford to be left behind in La Lliga.