It has rarely happened that Real Madrid and Barcelona have lost in the Continental competition within hours of each other. But both of them lost in their Champions League group stage matches on Tuesday and Wednesday, clearly indicating that Spanish football is struggling to live up to its glorious past and that more difficult days are ahead for them.
Real were shocked 1-2 by Sheriff Tiraspol, from little-known Transnistria on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, at Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday night, while Barcelona went down 0-3 to Fc Porto in an away game.
Real’s defeat was a bit surprising as they have done well in recent weeks winning three games before last weekend’s goalless draw with Villarreal in the La Liga while Barcelona were struggling at the domestic front too ever since Lionel Messi’s departure before the start of the season and are placed sixth in the La Liga.
Jasurbek Yakhshiboev opened the scoring for Sheriff — a club based in Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria, a breakaway state located on the Moldovan-Ukrainian border — with a header in the 25th minute and Real could manage the equaliser only 40 minutes later, thanks to a successful penalty-kick conversion from Karim Benzema.
But shortly before the final whistle, Sebastien Thill buried the Los Blancos’ hopes of victory, scoring the winner in the 89th minute and possibly creating the biggest upset at this level in decades.
Barca have suffered a second defeat in two games and from now on can’t afford any more slip-ups if they are to progress from Champions League Group E. Ronald Koeman’s former club, Benfica, took an early lead and although the Catalans had a host of opportunities to get back into the game, the Portuguese side were eventually able to build on that lead in the second half.
This was Barca’s second defeat in two games and from now on can’t afford any more slip-ups if they are to progress from Champions League Group E. Ronald Koeman’s former club, Benfica took an early lead and although the Catalans had a host of opportunities to get back into the game, the Portuguese side were eventually able to build on that lead in the second half.
The two defeats clearly indicate that all is not well in the Spanish League and the league bosses’ move to strictly bring in financial transparency has not paid off.
The rules meant Barcelona was forced to let go of talismanic striker Lionel Messi as a free agent, without any major gains from the exit of their star player as they could not let him stay because of the financial burden even when Messi had agreed to a big cut in salary.
With the financial rules coming into effect on Wednesday, both Real and Barcelona will have a shorter purse to pursue big stars on whom the teams have depended for titles. So gone are the days of Real’s Galacticos while Barcelona too will have to tread cautiously in the transfer market. Both clubs are heavily debt-ridden and need financial prudence but that coming at the cost of the results in big events like the Champions League may not augur well for both the clubs and Spanish football.