A sign for the service. The way Barcelona last played in the UEFA Cup

Barcelona fans are unlikely to mention the 2021/22 Champions League draw in five, ten or twenty years. The Catalan Grandmaster publicly failed in the group stage, missing not only the unwavering “Bavaria” but also the Portuguese “Benfica”, who had to completely ignore other facts. In the end, “Barcelona” finished third ahead of “Dynamo”, which still failed, although such a quartet from Kiev, apparently, did not expect any miracles.

Barcelona entered the new season with new hopes and under the leadership of Ronald Koeman, but the Dutch expert was eliminated at the end of October, in the middle of the Champions League group stage. Kuman’s replacement, Sergei Baruhan, led Dynamo to victory on the road (1: 0), after which the team got a new full-fledged coach – Xavi, who could not beat Benfica with him. (0:0)) and lost to Bavaria (0:3) in the sixth round.

Also read: 5 proofs that Ajax had an incredible Champions League campaign

As a result, Barcelona will face Euro 2021/22 in the second most prestigious European Cup – the Europa League, where the alumni have not played for almost 18 years. By the way, since then the tournament has been called the UEFA Cup, and the Blagranas, like now, have not experienced the best period in their history. Interestingly, Joan Laporte and Xavier were at the club then as they are now.

So, we have referred to the 2003/04 season when Barcelona last hosted the UEFA Cup instead of the Champions League. Xavi, as we said before, must remember those times well, because a couple of seasons ago he got a place in the “Precia” line-up from Joseph Cardiola, who went on to play in the Italian Serie A. . Louis van Gaal was the head coach of “Barcelona” at the beginning of 2003, shortly after his resignation, Radomir Antic sat on the bench of the Catalans, and in the summer the Dutchman Frank Rijkard was appointed to replace the Serbian.

Getty Images/Global Images Ucrania. franco rijkord

The change of coach that often occurs in that “Barcelona” is a kind of sample of the problems that exist within the football club. Interestingly, a similar phase in the academy’s development took place in the context of John Laporte’s first election to the Blocranos presidency in June 2003. It was this officer who was able to stop the training carousel, bring Roycard to Camp Nou five years and then call as an alternative to the Dutchman Cardiola, who has served four seasons.

Laporte now has a similar mission in Barcelona. The former executives, led by Joseph Bartomeu, have been doing things that the club’s current bosses have been cheering for for more than a year. In addition, with the former president, the technical leap was made again – in two years, four coaches visited Plugranas, interim coach Barhuana – without counting Ernesto Valverde, Kick Chettian, Ronald Komen and now Xavi. With the latter, Labourde hopes that Barcelona will be better again.

The 2003/04 season, Barcelona’s first as LaLiga captain, was forced to start only in the UEFA Cup. According to the results of LaLiga-2002/03, the Catalans finished sixth, earning only one point from the Bilbao-based “Athletes”, otherwise they would miss out on the European Cups. Winning the UEFA Cup is one of Labordo’s key tasks as he tries to quickly prove to doubters that Barcelona are one of the key powers not only on the Spanish football map, but throughout Europe.

Aware of his intentions, Laporte wanted to invite Rijcard to the coaching staff and reinforce the team with the best players. The main character is the Englishman David Beckham, with whom Joan agrees on almost everything, but almost the last time La Real appeared on the horizon with its Florentino Pérez and the “Galacticos” politics. As a result, Beckham introduced Madrid almost under their noses, and Bluegranos had to focus on one backup option: the signing of “Paris Saint-Germain” wizard Ronaldinho.

Together with Ronaldinho in the summer of 2003, Barcelona’s 2002 World Cup bronze medalist Rustu Reicher from Turkey confirmed young talent from Lisbon “Sporting” Ricardo Quaresma, Mexican center back Rafael Marquez from “Monaco ”. Signed in Ardennes van Bronckhorst. Many promising students from their own academy, La Macia, also joined the team. They are the starting midfielder Andrés Iniesta, the goalkeeper Víctor Valdés and the defender Olegar.

Getty Images/Global Images Ukraine. Xavi (right) was one of the leaders of the Catalans in 2004

The then rules of the UEFA Cup did not provide for the group stage, so “Barcelona” immediately started with matches that included the elimination of the losing team. Until the new year, the Catalans were able to hold two rounds of matches, first with Bukov (1: 1 – away, 8: 0 – at home), then – and with the Greek “Panionis” without serious problems with the Slovak Modora. (3: 0 – away, 2: 0 – home).

Barcelona’s situation in the national championship is very sad. In the first 15 matches, the Blocranas suffered 5 losses in a row, which placed them in 11th place in the standings. In the 18th round, the Catalans burned out a modest “career” (0: 3), after which the club agreed with “Juventus” to hire Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids, with the team winning 9 matches. In La Liga, the third step goes up immediately. Barcelona finished second in the championship, five points behind Valencia, leading to a championship qualifier from Rafael Benítez. This decision, initially unsuccessful, was deemed a success, with “Plogronas”’s performance during Riggard’s debut season in La Liga generally hailed as a feat by many pundits.

Paradoxically, but settled in the domestic championship, “Barcelona” suddenly slowed down on the European stage. In late February and early March 2004, in the third round of the UEFA Cup, the Catalans won a draw against Brandby, and the Danes did not play as poorly as the Slovaks and Greeks did in the earlier stages. Along the way, the Spaniards won modestly: 1: 0, thanks to Ronaldinho’s only goal, and took a 2-0 lead at home for a long time, but finally failed and not only lost the victory, but were able to allow Dane. Turn the competition upside down and make an incredible impression.

However, the excitement of the team’s last UEFA Cup draw with ‘Barcelona’ (from the 2009/10 season, the match was restructured in the Europa League) came in the next round, which was 1/8 end. His students missed Alan Thompson in the 59th minute on the way to Celtic Park on the road as usual (assistant scored on his own by future ‘Barcelona’ striker Henrik Larson, who left for the Catalan capital in 2004. – 1st of Catalonia ). A 0-1 draw in Glasgow made it difficult for Barca to advance to the quarter-finals, but Spanish journalists, pundits and fans were hopeful that they would get off to the desired start by playing off a fast start at the Camp Nou.

Getty Images/Global Images Ukraine. Ronaldinho on the attack

Despite Barcelona taking full advantage in the home game, Celtic were able to close out a goalless draw and create a very serious impression on the podium, leaving the UEFA Cup perhaps the main option in that draw. Although the match was played in the Catalan capital, due to the number of goalscoring moments and the magic it created in Ronaldinho’s field, it should not end goalless according to all the rules of the genre.

As a result, Celtic had already lost to another Spanish team in the quarterfinals – Villarreal (1: 1, 0: 2), and “Barcelona” won for the second time in club history two years later under Rijkard. Champions League. Interestingly, five of the players who did not win against Celtic at the Camp Nou two years ago were eliminated in the Champions League final against Arsenal as part of the Blu-ray at the State de France in Paris.

After that, ‘Barcelona’ won another three Champions and eight La Liga championships, becoming one of the main dominators of Spain and the entire European continent for almost a decade and a half. Xavi now believes that his participation in the Europa League playoffs 18 years ago was a good sign for his team in terms of future results.

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