Barcelona are reportedly set to lose out on as much as €21m (£18.3m) if they fail to make the knockout stages of the Champions League.
The Blaugrana’s hopes of making the last-16 are hanging by the thinnest of threads after their 3-3 draw with Inter Milan on matchday four at Camp Nou.
Despite Ousmane Dembele’s opener, Inter took advantage of some lacklustre Barcelona defending to move into a 2-1 lead courtesy of strikes from Nicolo Barella and Lautaro Martinez before Robert Lewandowski’s equaliser.
Robin Gosens had seemingly condemned Barcelona to a devastating defeat with his 89th-minute effort, but Lewandowski’s second of the game in injury time kept Barcelona alive in Europe’s top tournament.
Xavi’s side now occupy third place in the Group C standings, but their fate is out of their own hands, as Inter will join Bayern Munich in the last 16 if they beat Viktoria Plzen on the penultimate matchday.
A second successive stint in the Europa League could therefore befall Barcelona, whose already volatile financial situation could worsen if they drop down to the continent’s secondary tournament.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona could miss out on up to €21m (£18.3m) if they fail to progress to the last-16, as the board budgeted for the side to at least make it to the quarter-finals.
The report adds that winning the Europa League would not make up for Barcelona’s Champions League shortfall either, and Xavi’s side are in need of a miracle to make it to the knockout stages now.
President Joan Laporta brokered numerous deals in the summer to fund Barcelona’s significant spending in the transfer window, including a partnership with Spotify and the sale of TV rights.
Such economic levers allowed the likes of Jules Kounde, Raphinha and Lewandowski to join the club, and they have made a strong start to the 2022-23 La Liga season.
Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring their first goal with Jordi Alba and Gavi on October 1, 2022© Reuters
La Blaugrana currently sit at the top of the table with 22 points from eight games, but they are only above Real Madrid on goal difference ahead of the weekend’s El Clasico battle.
Xavi did not mince his words after Wednesday’s 3-3 draw with Inter, claiming that his side did not deserve to be in the Champions League as they endeavour to stay alive in the competition.
“I’m very disappointed, sad, frustrated… I’m angry. I have to be self-critical, we don’t deserve to play in the Champions League. It hurts me, but it’s the truth,” Xavi told the press.
“I apologise to the fans because we made the mistakes, we had set our minds not to fail, and we have failed, so we have to apologise to the fans, who have been wonderful. I want to tell them that we will work to turn this situation around and win titles.
“It’s no excuse for today (Inter’s supposed time-wasting). We didn’t draw because of that, we drew because of our mistakes because the game was in our hands.”
Barcelona welcome Bayern Munich to Camp Nou on matchday five of the Champions League and sit three points behind Inter, but they will not be able to catch the Nerazzurri if they overcome Viktoria Plzen due to Inter’s superior head-to-head record. – SportsMole