With La Liga out of reach, where has it gone wrong for Barca?

Having won eight of the past 12 league titles coming into this campaign, where has it gone so wrong for Barca?

Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts during the defeat to Celta Vigo.   -  AP

Defeat by Celta Vigo at Camp Nou on Sunday condemned Barcelona to a seventh loss of the season - its most since 2007-08 - meaning it can finish third at best in La Liga.

Having won eight of the past 12 league titles coming into this campaign, where has it gone so wrong for Barca?

READ | Koeman desperate for Messi to stay, tight lipped on Barca future  

IF NOT MESSI, THEN WHO?

Lionel Messi has 30 Liga goals to his name, and coach Ronald Koeman said after the Celta defeat: "If he's not at the club, who is going to score the goals for us?".

Barca's second-highest scorer in the league is Antoine Griezmann, with 12 goals, five of which have come in the last ten games.

Barca allowed Luis Suarez to join Atletico Madrid last summer for a nominal sum, and the Uruguayan's 20 goals have shot it to the brink of the title.

Messi's contract expires next month. Should Barca fail to retain him, it could find itself in a battle for Champions League next term, rather than a push for the title.

DEFENSIVE WOES

Koeman has often lamented the fact that sides have been clinical against Barca, but that reflects the quality of the chances his side offer up.

It is still as reliant as ever on 34-year-old Gerard Pique and neither Clement Lenglet nor Samuel Umtiti have looked capable of partnering him.

However, the habit of relying on Pique was ruthlessly exposed by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

The image of Kylian Mbappe sprinting away from Pique in PSG's 4-1 Camp Nou win has turned into an internet meme.

A reliable partner for, and successor to, the centre-back are required.

Local media reports suggest Ronald Koeman is on the brink of exiting. - REUTERS   -  REUTERS

 

ANOTHER WRONG APPOINTMENT

Barca's decision to sack Ernesto Valverde, who had won back-to-back titles, while top of the league in January 2020 has never seemed as miscalculated.

His replacement, Quique Setien, was fired that summer and replaced by Koeman.

While a club legend as a player, Koeman's coaching record at club level made him a gamble that seems to have backfired.

Barca won the Copa del Rey - the Dutchman's first trophy since 2009 - however its big game record has suffered.

Local media reports suggest he is on the brink of exiting, with another club legend, Xavi Hernandez, in the frame to replace him.

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