With the break in competition in LaLiga Santander coming to an end attention now turns back to the domestic title race, and with Barcelona sitting a slender two points clear of Real Madrid, Quique Setien is fighting for his future at the Camp Nou.
The remaining 11 matches of the season will provide the former Real Betis tactician an opportunity to revalidate his credentials, especially after his first few months in charge of Los Cules weren’t overly spectacular.
A Clasico defeat will always damage a coach’s security be that for the Blaugrana or Real Madrid, and Setien must overcome such a stain on his record in the remaining fixtures.
Whether or not he remains as Barcelona coach in 2020/21 has been questioned, especially when you remember all the talk surrounding Xavi Hernandez in January.
“Coaches depend on results, if I don’t win then I know what happens, this is the profession I chose,” Setien detailed in an interview with Catalunya Radio.
The club made a decision to replace Ernesto Valverde with Setien to try and kick-start the team’s attacking play and placate supporters who had suggested that the former had become stale in his role.
Unfortunately, Setien has already been eliminated in the Copa del Rey, bringing to an end Los Cules’ fine run of success in the tournament and the style of football also hasn’t overtly improved.
This left a Barcelona without any shine to them and the fans whistled them, which is as clear proof as any that patience is in very short supply at the Camp Nou, especially after the damaging failures in Rome and Merseyside.
If these whistles grow stronger than it becomes almost impossible to keep a coach in place, however Setien does have 11 matches to change this opinion of both his team and his football.
Barcelona have played 12 matches under Setien’s stewardship and have eight wins, one draw and three defeats.
The three matches which Los Cules have lost have stung the most, with them coming in the Clasico and the Copa del Rey against Athletic Club.
The third and final defeat came against Valencia, despite Barcelona having a 2-0 advantage, a result which has been seen as wholly unacceptable.
The Uruguayan forward has benefitted from the break in competition as it has allowed him to return in time for the final 11 matches.
His arrival will be a huge boost to Setien and it should help provide goals and creativity, provided he uses him as the reference forward which the team has lacked in recent matches.
Whilst this is a small margin of dominance over Los Blancos, it’s a lead nevertheless and Barcelona have something to defend going into their final 11 matches. If they win them all then they will be the Champions of Spain once more.
However, any dropped points and life could become very complicated indeed, especially with how resolute Zinedine Zidane’s defence has been.
Whilst failing to win the domestic title will be seen as an abject failure, even if Setien wins it he will actually be judged on the Champions League.
The competition has become the measuring stick for the Blaugrana and after multiple collapses in recent editions of the tournament, there is a desperation to return to the final, especially whilst Lionel Messi is still at the peak of his powers.
In short, Setien’s Barcelona must approach the excellence pursued by both fans and the board with results. You have to recall that Valverde was dismissed with his team top of the table.
Winning alone is not enough, but the Camp Nou can turn the tide if they see some positive football and good results.
This campaign must end with optimism for the next one, something which didn’t happen with Valverde either in 2018 or 2019. If Setien can’t achieve that then his stay at Barcelona may be a short one.