Is Valverde’s focus towards the Champions League hurting the club in La Liga?

By guest contributor Soham Banerjee (@IamSohamB).

FC Barcelona's recent run of form and Ernesto Valverde's substitution and rotation decisions were discussed on the latest edition of The Barcelona Podcast:

As a football fan, you would be surprised to see the La Liga table. None of the big three- Barcelona, Atletico or Real Madrid have risen above the rest. A series of poor performances from the clubs have helped the Andalusians, Sevilla FC to take the top spot. Throwing light on the performances on display by the Blaugrana, it is difficult to assess on which direction the club may be heading this season. To the surprise of all football fans, Barça haven’t won a single game in their last four encounters in the La Liga. Is it mere complacency or something more?

Since the 2-2 draw against their Catalan neighbors Girona, the club doesn't seem to have the cutting edge to see the game off and get the required result. There may be a couple of factors to this. First being Valverde’s decision to rotate the squad to achieve optimal fitness against other teams. Second, pertaining to the first point, being the lack of communication and tactical stability due to the rotation and changing of roles. It has often been seen that Valverde has tried playing Dembele on both flanks, Coutinho in both the midfield and on the left wing, Vermaelen in the left-back position and so on and so forth. The efforts put forth by the players also seems to have curtailed from the season before. Are there any intentions behind such actions?

What we are seeing from the pattern of performances in La Liga and the Champions League is that there is clearly more motivation and incentive to perform better in the latter competition. We have seen Real Madrid doing this for a couple of years, succeeding to win the Champions League by strategically resting their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo. It has been a while since Barcelona has won the most sought after club competition trophy on the continent and have great desire to get it back to the Catalan capital. In recent years and at the urging of an insatiable fan base, Barcelona have always looked to win all three major trophies and have succeeded twice in doing so.

The bitter truth is that the club, until now, has looked to shift its focus towards the Champions League and still remain in a reasonable position in the domestic league purely on luck. The performances versus PSV and Tottenham Hotspur were surely commendable, but they came at the cost of dropping points in the league. We must remember that even a minor failure in such an approach can cost a club its whole season.