The win does little to ease the pain of last week’s Champions League semi-final exit to Liverpool, but Barca did turn out a determined display.
Boss Ernesto Valverde can take some heart from the win, even if the low turnout the Camp Nou suggests the supporters did not.
Here’s the key talking points from Sunday’s encounter.
COUTINHO’S BARCELONA CAREER OVER?
Perhaps it was the emptiness of the stadium which amplified the discontent, but never has whistling sounded quite so piercing.
Philippe Coutinho must have mistaken this for an away fixture because literally every touch of the Brazilian’s in the first half received a poisonous response from the Barca fans.
These are testing times at the club right now and it seems the discontent is being pounded into the chest of Coutinho.
In many ways it’s heartbreaking viewing. This is a player hallmarked by instinctive destruction. He’s spent the vast part of his Barcelona career guessing, and very often incorrectly.
But is it any surprise? With Liverpool, Coutinho was the creative fulcrum, the player designated to find the killer pass or produce the stunning finish.
At Barcelona, his role is not to find goal or make an assist, but to route the ball to Lionel Messi to do that job, his previous vocation.
Coutinho’s game is about balance, and at Barcelona, he’s been unsteady. Indeed, how many times have we seen him produce his signature goal, cutting in from the left and vaporising the ball with virtually no backlift? Not often.
Upon his departure, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp warned Coutinho at clubs like Barcelona, he’s “just another player”.
Coutinho has become worse than that, though, because the record fee means he cannot hide like any other player.
Short and sour, his Barcelona career is surely over.
BUSQUETS POOR AGAIN
One player who should not escape criticism this season, and most definitely will be at risk in 2019/20 is Sergio Busquets.
This was another performance in which he repeatedly steered the ball into danger. The 30-year-old seems to dodge the ire of Barca fans perhaps because of his La Masia roots, but he cannot escape decline.
This was not a dire display in isolation. His entire campaign has been littered with inefficiency. Busquets was once the best No6 on the planet, but in the age of athletes, he’s simply being swallowed up and now spits the ball out inaccurately.
Frenkie de Jong arrives from Ajax in the summer, the Barcelona revolution begins with the evolution of the player operating at the base of midfield.
WINS WON’T REPAIR THE DAMAGE
When the teamsheet was released on social media virtually all the replies followed a similar theme – Valverde out.
Now, the echo chamber of Twitter is hardly the most accurate platform to gauge fan feeling, but there’s no doubting Valverde will be fortunate to survive the summer.
The Basque boss was adamant in the pre-match build-up he has the full support of the board and will be given the opportunity to oversee changes.
But realistically, how much time will the fans give him? Granted, this season isn’t over yet with the Copa del Rey final still to come.
Perhaps the narrative may shift again depending on that result but wins this season won’t repair the damage.
The team showed plenty of fight on Sunday and were determined to make a point in what was ultimately a pointless contest as far as they were concerned.
There’s a long way to go, though.
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