Barcelona‘s crisis is getting worse by the day.
After getting smashed 4-1 by Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final in Saudi Arabia and losing 4-2 to Athletic Club in Bilbao in the Copa del Rey, the Blaugrana have once again shipped a boatload of goals. A Villarrealside winless in their last four turned up in Catalunya and hung five on Xavi’s side in a 5-3 shellacking.
The pressure on the club legend-turned-manager is ramping up as Barcelonanow find themselves a whopping ten points off leaders Real Madrid in LaLiga. Villarreal became the first team in some 63 years to put five past the Blaugrana on home soil and the Catalans have already conceded as many goals (46) after 32 games as they did over the course of the entire previous campaign.
Despite the recent assertions from club bosses that Xavi still enjoys the full backing of the Barcelona hierarchy, these results just can’t keep happening. What made the Villarreal result particularly galling is that one of La Masia’s biggest talents of recent years, Ilias Akhomach, got on the scoresheet – but not for Barcelona.
Ilias Akhomach (born 50km away from Barcelona) was the first La Masia debutant in Xavi’s era.
His contract came to an end last summer and left on a free. Now, his goal vs his childhood club leaves Xavi on the ropes. Funny old game.
Here’s him celebrating with friends tonight. pic.twitter.com/ZlxzNNL7Vv
— Pol Ballús (@polballus) January 27, 2024
19-year-old Ilias Akhomach departed the now-demolished Camp Nou in the summer in search of senior minutes after seeing his path to the first team blocked in Catalunya. The youngster did not even fetch Barcelona a transfer fee as his contract simply expired and he left for nothing.
At Villarreal, Akhomach has not necessarily set the world alight. A record of three goals and five assists in 27 games is nothing to write home about, but the teenager’s talent is undeniable and he showed it against his former employers, rounding Inaki Pena to make it 2-0.
Barcelona’s inability to tie the youngster down to a new deal prior to the summer was already back then described as a massive mistake in the Spanish media, and those voices appear to have been vindicated. The Spain-born Moroccan was considered one of the brightest talents in Barca’s famed La Masia academy and had big-name suitors, including from the Premier League.
Failing to keep the youngster was a monumental blunder on the part of Barcelona and it is one that is haunting them in the present and could yet come back to haunt them further in the future as well.