Five things Barcelona must do to recapture former glories following Champions League humiliation against Bayern Munich

The once untouchable side were humiliated by Bayern Munich with a 7-0 aggregate Champions League semi-final defeat

With some claiming Barcelona's 7-0 aggregate Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich spells the end of an era, The Independent's Pete Jenson identifies five areas the Spaniards can target to recapture former glories.

 

1. Sign a centre-back

As much as they would love to believe otherwise, Carles Puyol is not Benjamin Button. The 35-year-old defender is not getting any younger. He has played only 19 games this season and no one else has the defensive instinct, the organisation, and physical presence in the current group to replace him alongside Gerard Pique.

It was obvious last summer, and after a 7-0 reverse against Bayern it screams out at president Sandro Rosell who baulked at Thigao Silva’s wage demands last year and has ended up paying for it in lost Uefa prize-money (There is €17m on offer for winning the Champions League). Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels and Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany would fit the requirements perfectly but neither wants to leave their current teams and their clubs have no necessity to sell. Real Sociedad’s 21-year-old Inigo Martinez is another being watched and reigniting last year’s interest in Liverpool’s Daniel Agger has not been ruled out.

 

2. Messi’s wing men

Cries for Barcelona to sign a centre-forward and move Lionel Messi’s position on the pitch ignore the fact that playing there he scored almost 100 goals in 2012 and has 54 this season. But there must be goals either side of him coming from players capable of attacking the space he leaves behind when dropping deep. Players capable of playing through the middle but willing and able to sacrifice themselves starting in wider areas.

Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o did it in the 2008-09 season and David Villa likewise in the 2010-11 campaign. Neymar will arrive this summer but may take more than a season to adjust. After scoring 18 goals for the B team this season 19-year-old Gerard Deloufeu may also get his chance but is another who might need time.

A more experienced reinforcement who will do as Henrik Larsson and Henry have done in the past may be sought.

 

3. The clear-out

With those returning from loan spells and various youth team players contracted to step up to the senior squad Barcelona’s numbers could swell to 35 players this summer. Sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta will need to sell before he buys.

Striker Villa, midfielder Thiago Alcantara and full-back Adriano as well as unwanted returning loans such as Bojan Krkic and Ibrahim Afellay could all be moved on. And if a worthwhile bid comes in for Alexis Sanchez he will be first through the door after six goals in 36 games this season.

Some Barcelona fans have even started to think the unthinkable that if a sizeable bid were to come in for Cesc Fabregas the returned prodigal son could be sold. It is true his comeback has been disappointing but he has just bought a new house in nearby Castelldefels and coach Tito Vilanova, who was Fabregas’ coach at schoolboy level, is determined to make the homecoming a success.

 

4. Messi dependence

Before Pep Guardiola took over in 2008 Messi was a player forever wrapped in cotton wool. Under Guardiola he played four straight seasons with barely a fortnight out at any one time. He would come back from international duty and take a taxi straight to training before starting the next league game. Guardiola improved diet and preparation and the idea of resting him was taken out of the equation almost as if it was psychologically negative.

Post-Pep the old fear has returned – he is back in that grey area of being neither injured, nor fit. He watched Wednesday’s game from the bench as an unused substitute and then trained the day after. Vilanova said after the match that it was not that Messi had been injured, but there was a fear he might get injured. It is a drama that must not be allowed to turn into a crisis.

 

5. Cold nights in Stoke

When this sentiment was first given airtime – that Barça would struggle to win at the Britannia in the depths of winter – it was unashamed nonsense. Barcelona’s finest XIs over the past five seasons – notably from 2009 and 2011 – could beat anybody, anywhere, no matter how hostile the climate or the opposition.

And it wasn’t just that their brilliance meant as one eulogy read they “could play in the rain, without getting wet”, they were also very capable of looking after themselves.

 But a brief look at the players they have lost across the last four seasons to age, injury, illness or to rival clubs (Yaya Touré, Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto’o, Seydou Keita, Puyol, Eric Abidal and even Zlatan Ibrahimovic) and the common link is presence on the pitch. They bounced off Bayern in midweek. This summer they need to find some characters who will give the team back its attitude.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Environment
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells