Barcelona president Joan Laporta admits his team’s premature exit from the Champions League is a shame, but he was philosophical about their “young project” under Xavi.
The Blaugrana were officially eliminated and traded to the Europa League after Inter’s 4-0 win over Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday, before going home in the 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich.
Barcelona have been sentenced to exit the group stage for the second consecutive season, almost 12 months after the appointment of Xavi in place of Ronald Koeman.
The five-time Champions League winners significantly spent Xavi’s first offseason at the helm, leading Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, Hector Bellerin, Franck Kessie, Marcos Alonso and Raphipha.
Barça’s failure to reach the knockout stage will have a financial impact on the club, but Laporta has been philosophical.
“It’s a shame, but you can’t blame the players or the manager at all,” Laporta told Barca TV. “We have to look ahead, because we have LaLiga and other competitions left.
“This is a young project in which we knew from the beginning that we would have ups and downs. The championship remains and we must show that we are moving forward.”
The blaugrana are second in La Liga after an excellent start to the season with 28 points in 11 games, three points behind Real Madrid, whose victory in El Clasico earlier this month put them in the lead.
“La Liga is very important and we have it close,” said Laporta. “The message is to look forward. This has already happened.”
Barca’s 3-0 home defeat to the German champions marked their sixth consecutive defeat to Bayern, including an 8-2 defeat in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2020.
“Bayern are an established and powerful team, one of the best in Europe and they didn’t play anything, they started out relaxed,” added Laporta.
“For us it was very complicated and the [Inter] the match against Plzen was torture, but we still have faith. “
Barça midfielder Pedri was more outspoken in his assessment of the team’s elimination.
“For me it is a failure,” he told Movistar. “We do not deserve to be in the Champions League, we have shown it in the matches. But we have many competitions to face and we give joy to the fans who have been with us at all times.”
This was the first time Barca have been knocked out of the Champions League group stage in consecutive seasons from the 1997-98 and 1998-99 campaigns under Louis van Gaal.
Real Madrid will be the only Spanish side in the round of 16 with Sevilla, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid all out with a game to spare. The last season in Spain with only one team in the round of 16 was 1998-99, again with the Blancos.