Sports Burst - Barca's Crisis In The Multiverse

Reuters

 

By Tim Stannard

 

Slavia Prague head to the Camp Nou as Barcelona looks for swift reaction from LaLiga's Levante loss 

 

Sports Burst is donning a turtle-neck, pouring some vino and starting the day by talking reality and perception. The subject of both is Barcelona

The reality of Barcelona in cold, hard figures read pretty well. 

The Camp Nou club is top of LaLiga having played one less game than all but one of their 19 opponents in Spain. 

 

Barcelona are also at the summit of the team's Champions League group by a three point margin, despite the side's rivals being the European megaweights of Inter and Borussia Dortmund. 

Indeed, a home victory at the Camp Nou against Slavia Prague today all but seals Barca's path to the knockout stages with two games to spare. A record of 26 wins and 2 draws in Barcelona's last Champions League home matches suggests that this eventuality is fairly certain.

However, the perception of Barcelona is of a team in crisis. Not CRISIS!, but a crisis nonetheless. 

Listless performances, an overreliance on Lionel Messi, a distracted Gerard Pique - all partnered with three defeats in LaLiga and normally reticent footballers like Ter Stegen suggesting all is not right in the locker room.

 

"We know what it means to lose a game, it creates a tidal wave of pressure," said Barca boss, Ernesto Valverde who does not have Luis Suarez available for Tuesday's game but has instead recalled Ousmane Dembele after the player was dropped for Saturday's Levante loss - luckily as it turns out. 

"Everyone has to earn their place," boomed Valverde on the French forward. Except the manager, says Barcelona fans gathering at the Camp Nou today. 

The Sports Burst live show will have a double special on Tuesday to look ahead to and look back at today's Champions League games. Head to our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page at 12PM ET and 5PM ET. 

 

 

More Bale backlash after Wales call-up 

 

Tuesday sees the Spanish press getting very upset about all things Gareth Bale. Again.

Last week, there was an actual TV camera crew stalking the footballer going about his day on a trip to London - with the permission from Real Madrid

Today, the player's call-up to the Wales squad for two upcoming European Championship qualifiers has everyone in a tizz considering Bale hasn't been able to play for Real Madrid for almost a month with a mystery injury. 

 

Bale is set to miss Real Madrid's Champions League home clash against Galatasaray on Wednesday and will need to be fit in time for the weekend's trip to Eibar to be able to then don a Wales jersey. Quite how upset the Madrid media will get should Bale then get injured again remains to be seen.

All this is happening amidst more stories that Bale is seeking an exit from the club in January. There was even a highly entertaining story that Madrid were going to offer Bale and cash to Manchester City in return for Raheem Sterling. Tuesday sees Borussia Dortmund midfield, Jadon Sancho as the target. 

 

Klopp's pop shot at Pep sparks new football feud 

 

After several years of mutual respect and general chuminess, Jurgen Klopp v Pep Guardiola is now an actual thing. 

While Jose Mourinho apparently waits at Bayern Munich's door, a delightful burgeoning feud is developing in England despite the absence of the Special One's special ability to start trouble.

 

On Saturday, Pep Guardiola noted quite archly that Liverpool's title EPL campaign this season was being built on lucky late finishing and diving. Sadio Mane in particular being responsible both, was the observation from Pep.  

Speaking on Monday ahead of Liverpool's Champions League match against Genk, Klopp both refused to bite back - "I am not too sure that I want to put oil on the fire," and then proceeded to do so with the German bringing up the "tactical fouls" of Manchester City and faux-lauding Guardiola's bigger brain. 

Rather happily, the two teams face off on Sunday. But not before Liverpool need to pick up three points in the Champions League on Tuesday in what has been a bit of a scattered campaign so far and Manchester City travel to Atalanta to take on the leaky Serie A side.