Amid celebrations of Barcelona’s 4-0 Clasico victory over Real Madrid last Sunday, the club’s most powerful and influential figures took to the pitch at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu to pose for a photo to score the occasion.
As club president Joan Laporta proudly held up four fingers, vice president Rafael Yuste clenched his fist. Coach Xavi, his brother and assistant Oscar Hernandez and Sergio Alegre, another backroom staff member, were smiling broadly. Sporting director Mateu Alemany and director of the international department Jordi Cruyff were also beaming.
Among others pictured is former Barcelona handball star Enric Masip, who was part of Laporta’s successful campaign to return to the club’s presidency in early 2021.
“The club was devastated by the actions of the previous board,” Masip told Spanish radio program El Larguero after the game. “We did three years’ work in three months. Barcelona are fired up again, as the president said. We have to celebrate that we have come back from a catastrophic situation.
Just over 12 months after Laporta started his second term as president, it looked like the terrible situation inherited from predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu had been completely reversed.
The game and this photo definitely lifted the spirits of the fans who had suffered for three years since Barcelona’s last Clasico win.
But the message that ‘Barca are back’ also seemed potentially a bit premature.
The Athletic therefore spent the week speaking to more than a dozen sources in and around the Nou Camp to determine whether such optimism and jubilation was truly deserved. And we’ve discovered that while Xavi’s side are certainly on an upward curve, the Catalan club’s off-field issues are far from over.