PETE JENSON: Barcelona to lose out on £18m if they fail to get out of their Champions League group

PETE JENSON: Barcelona will lose out on £18m if they are dumped into the Europa League for a second year in a row. Their £130m summer spend didn’t budget for Champions League failure – they simply cannot afford to lose Inter Milan double-header

  • Barcelona lost against Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday
  • It now looks likely that either they or Inter Milan will drop into the Europa League
  • The two sides face each other twice in the space of six days next month
  • Barcelona will lose out on £18m if they get knocked out in the group stages
  • Their summer budget was based on the club making it into the knockout rounds
  • They can’t afford to lose to Inter as this will be a major financial blow for the club

Barcelona’s ability to rattle Bayern Munich in the first half at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday night has left the club confident that they can be serious contenders for this season’s tournament, but the subsequent 2-0 defeat has also thrown-up a sobering reality.

Xavi’s side now face a must-win two-game play off with Inter Milan that will cost the club £18 million if they don’t get through it. Being drawn into the toughest Champions League group was always going to be a test for the team built in the summer at the cost of over £130m.

But losing once more in Munich means the hour of reckoning comes as early as October 4 when Barca visit Milan to play Inter, and October 10 when they play them at Camp Nou.

Xavi's Barcelona side must get the better of Inter Milan or face Champions League elimination

Xavi’s Barcelona side must get the better of Inter Milan or face Champions League elimination

Simone Inzaghi's Inter are level on points with Barcelona on three points after two games

Simone Inzaghi’s Inter are level on points with Barcelona on three points after two games

Barcelona president Joan Laporta gave the club the green light to spend £130m this summer, but he expects the team to make the Champions League knockout stages

Barcelona president Joan Laporta gave the club the green light to spend £130m this summer, but he expects the team to make the Champions League knockout stages

If, as expected, Bayern win their double-header with Viktoria Plzen they will be through and Inter and Barca will have to scrap for the second spot. Barcelona cannot afford to fail.

The club have budgeted for reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League minimum this season, and a second season in the Europa League will deal a crushing blow to their attempts to consolidate financially after a summer spent mortgaging the club’s future by selling assets to end signings.

Barcelona will earn around £8.3m if they reach the last 16 and a further £9.2m if they reach the quarter-finals. That’s what the money men need to balance the books.

From there they can try to reach the semi-finals and earn the club a further £10.8m, and then reach the final, earning either a further £13.4m or £17.3m depending on whether they lose or win it. Not making it out of the group is not an option.

Barcelona dropped into the Europa League last season, and went out in the quarter-finals after losing to Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt

Barcelona dropped into the Europa League last season, and went out in the quarter-finals after losing to Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt

Only winning the Europa League (and earning around £13m for doing so) would fill that financial black hole. And as Barcelona found out last season – dropping down a level makes you the team everyone wants to beat and it’s not so easy to scoop up the inferior prize.

The good news, and the reason Xavi admitted he was angry at the result on Tuesday night was that they played well enough to have picked up what would have been their first ever victory away to Bayern.

They had 10 goal attempts in the first half. Only once before, against Fiorentina in 2008, have as many been recorded in the first 45 minutes against Bayern in a Champions League game. Barcelona also dominated possession and hit the post in the second half.

The feeling around the club as the team flew home was one of optimism. Robert Lewandowski had seven chances and it will be a while before his success rate drops that low again. Ousmane Dembele looked to have been brought down just before half-time and that might have changed the complexion of the game.

Barcelona forward Robert Lewandowski had a rare off-night against his former club

Barcelona forward Robert Lewandowski had a rare off-night against his former club

There is contentment that Barca had competed, and confidence that playing that way they will be too strong for Inter Milan next month. The one doubt, however, is the way they failed to respond to going behind. There was nothing left in the tank in the last 20 minutes when Bayern found it too easy to manage the win.

Former Real Madrid player Alvaro Benito, now a widely respected pundit, summed it up best when he said after the game: ‘Against a Liverpool, [Manchester] City or Paris Saint-Germain it’s very difficult to dominate for 90 minutes. You are going to have your good half hour and you are also going to have your spells when you have to put your umbrella up and weather the storm.

‘It’s true that Barca deserved more and if they had gone ahead it would have changed the game but they didn’t and then they got hit on the chin they started to wobble – that is where there is room for improvement.’

Barcelona don’t have long to develop that durability. Xavi takes them into their next Champions League game at the San Siro in three weeks.

He will know better than anyone: the lessons from the latest Bayern beating must be learned quickly or the finances will suffer as much as the fans dreaming of a sixth Champions League.

Advertisement

.