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What are the consequences of Barça's elimination from the Champions League?

It has been 18 years since Barça last played in Europe's second-tier competition when they were knocked out by Celtic in the quarter-finals
Bayern Munich's Leroy Sane celebrates scoring his team's second goal.

REUTERS/ANDREAS GEBERT  -   Bayern Munich's Leroy Sane celebrates scoring his team's second goal

The defeat of Xavi Hernández's Barcelona against Bayern Munich was not the end of the sporting and economic debacle that the Catalan side are experiencing. The years of bonanza, inflated by a policy of overpayments and squandering, will continue to take their toll in 2022 for a reason explained by Thomas Müller after the 3-0 defeat in Munich: "Barça cannot compete at the highest level". 

That level to which the German striker refers will also be found in the Europa League. A competition that they will have to play in its preliminary phase before the round of 16 and with the second leg at home. Napoli, for example, could be one of Xavi's opponents. The Italian side are third in Serie A, two points behind the leaders. For Barcelona, saying goodbye to the Champions League will have other consequences in the medium term that it is interesting to evaluate.

Revenues

The sporting catastrophe has a relative impact on Barça's finances. The Superliga made it clear that UEFA's financial rewards are small change for the European giants. Barça will lose 20 million euros for not staying in the Champions League and could earn around six million euros if they win the Europa League. For its battered economy it is an important blow, but it must be remembered that its debt is 1,350 million euros. 

El defensa francés del Barcelona Clement Lenglet (izq.) abraza al delantero polaco del Bayern de Múnich Robert Lewandowski tras el partido de fútbol del grupo E de la UEFA Champions League entre el FC Bayern de Múnich y el FC Barcelona en Múnich
AFP/CHRISTOF STACHE - Barcelona's French defender Clement Lenglet (left) hugs Bayern Munich's Polish striker Robert Lewandowski after the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between FC Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona in Munich.
Sponsorships

Piqué has given more to Barça with Rakuten as a sponsor than playing on the pitch. That sponsorship alleviated some of his debt, although Bartomeu's team soon squandered it on salary increases. Now Barça will have to renegotiate with their sponsors whether they will provide the amounts locked in for advancing from the Champions League, but in the Europa League. If they decide to honour the contract, Laporta's team would see their income seriously cut in the face of that winter market in which they want to sign. 

Super League

Barça's historic elimination from the Champions League could be the final knock on the door of the new European competition. For UEFA, there is nothing worse than a badly wounded European giants in financial need. If the temptation comes in the form of higher revenues by activating another competition that can dissipate its debt in half the time, Laporta and his team would get down to work with Florentino Pérez. 

El entrenador español del Barcelona, Xavi, durante el partido de fútbol del grupo E de la Liga de Campeones de la UEFA entre el FC Bayern de Múnich y el FC Barcelona en Múnich
AFP/CHRISTOF STACHE - Barcelona's Spanish coach Xavi during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between FC Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona in Munich.
2022/2023 season

The real objective for Xavi Hernández's Barcelona must be to secure a Champions League place next season. As of December, they are in seventh place, a Conference League position, four points behind Rayo Vallecano, albeit with a game in hand. Real Madrid or fighting for La Liga are unattainable objectives and all their efforts must be focused on being a team in Europe's top competition so that the big players and sponsors will want to continue betting on the Barça brand.

Hitting rock bottom

Barça have not left the crisis behind them after their elimination from the Champions League. Xavi commented after the game in Munich that another stage was beginning, but for that to happen, the current season has to end and that will bring more failures unless the club wins La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Europa League. Anything less than lifting those titles will be a new drama. Elimination from the Copa del Rey will lead to another night of long knives. Falling out of the Europa League will bring back memories of the 2003-2004 season, Laporta's first as president, when Celtic knocked Rijkaard's side out of the UEFA Cup in the last 16 after a 1-0 first leg and a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou. Neither Xavi, Ronaldinho nor Puyol could do anything on that fateful night of 11 March 2004 for Spanish society. Not winning La Liga is part of their plans, but it remains to be seen how far behind Real Madrid they remain. 

Year I after Messi and Barça is already suffering in Europe and Spain. It makes good the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid and how the white team has overcome the crisis. The future azulgrana has to write more dark chapters to purge the sins of the last few seasons.