Barça can still have an excellent season despite the elimination from the Champions League. Barcelona will chase La Liga and has historical precedents to not lose hope: The two Van Gaal League titles, came despite two eliminations in the Champions League group stage.
It is true that the team also has within reach the Europa League, the Copa del Rey and the Super Cup. But if they don’t compete in La Liga until the end, this season won’t be a success. Winning the Cup or Europa League would be a good thing. But it would not be a notable or outstanding sesson without a good role in the League.
Barça of Van Gaal fell surprisingly in the group stage of the UCL 97-98 against Dinamo kyiv, PSV, first and second, and Newcastle, which was third. Barça was LAST in the group. However, the team reacted in La Liga. They were champions four rounds from the end, on matchday 34, beating Zaragoza 1-0. Moreover, Barça sealed it with the Cup against Mallorca, completing the domestic double.
In the following season, the disappointment was even greater: in the club’s 100 years anniversary, the final of the UCL was at the Camp Nou that years.
Eventually, Barça finished third in its group, behind Bayern and Manchester United and ahead only of Brondby. Both Bayern and Man Utd went on to meet in the unforgettable final that season.
Van Gaal was on a tightrope after getting eliminated for the second consecutive season. But then, a goal from Xavi vs Valladolid (0-1) saved him. It was Xavi’s first La Liga goal.
From that point, the team reacted and went into a great run. Eventually, Barça won the league on Matchday 35, beating Alavés 1-4.
Barça still has a lot to olay for this season. The late winne vs Valencia yesterday showed how mich the players want it.