FC Barcelona may very well see some brighter days ahead under manager Xavi, but the present continues to be cloudy and cold. On Thursday, the Catalan side was bounced from the Copa del Rey with a 3-2 defeat at Athletic Club in extra time in the round of 16. This came barely a week after Barca lost to Real Madrid in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup. They’ve already been eliminated from the Champions League and are currently struggling in La Liga, sitting in sixth place.
Barca never led, had to come from behind twice, and somehow they managed to score on two of their three shots on goal. Xavi’s team finished with seven total shots, while Athletic bossed the match with their counter-attacking style under Marcelino, recording almost three times as many shots despite having just one-third of the possession. Athletic outshot Barca, 19-7.
Iker Muniain was the hero for the hosts, scoring in the second minute and then on this penalty kick at the end of the first extra time. Take a look:
With Ousmane Dembele on his way out, Barca played a fairly young, inexperienced attack led by new signing Ferran Torres. The former Manchester City and Valencia man scored his first goal for the club, but the team rarely threatened. Pedri scored in the final moments of regulation to force extra time, but it was left back Jordi Alba who was called for a hand ball that led to the decisive goal.
It was an overall disappointing performance for Barcelona as they bow out of yet another competition. While the Copa del Rey doesn’t hold the same level of importance for the club as La Liga or the Champions League, this was their best chance at taking home a trophy this season. They’ve won just three of their last 11 matches in all competitions.
Barca still have a chance at winning the Europa League this season, and they’ll face Napoli in the round of 32 next month on Paramount+.