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Ernesto Valverde has to take the blame for Levante debacle

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It was a horrible performance from Barcelona

Levante v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen/Soccrates/Getty Images

Where do you even start after that?!

That has to be one of the most dismal, disjointed performances by Barca for a long time.

We’ve seen some pretty poor games before, but that was scraping the bottom of the barrel. And there’s only one person who the finger should be pointed at. Ernesto Valverde.

Yes, I’ve defended him before, and I believe rightly so. But there’s no escaping that he did absolutely nothing to affect that game, particularly when it was going away from the Blaugranes.

Levante were hard working, tenacious and physical, all traits Valverde would’ve expected before kick-off.

Furthermore, with much of their play coming down the right-hand side, as it has in many of their games this season, why was Nelson Semedo stationed there instead of Jordi Alba?

A Champions League game on Tuesday isn’t a reasonable enough excuse in my opinion. We needed width down that side, and a player, in Alba, whose associative play with Messi is almost telepathic.

Even if we discount the connection with the No.10, Alba offers a much better option on that side of the pitch, and gives Barca’s game a more natural and balanced look.

Far too often at the City of Valencia Stadium, Barca’s build up play was too stop-start and very easy for the hosts to defend against.

Players were getting in each other’s way, passes weren’t sharp enough, balls were given away far too easily.

In short, all of the things that Barca are renowned for, they weren’t doing. And what was the response from the bench? Well, there wasn’t one.

An enforced substitution, a couple more to try and liven things up a bit... It was nowhere near enough from a coach who is surely on his final warning now.

Even if you take into account that Levante recently beat a good Real Sociedad side, that’s still a 90 minutes that’s as far from acceptable for Barca as it’s possible to be.

In some respects, we were always going to arrive at this point because there’s only so many times a ‘get out of jail free’ card can be used.

The question now is what will be done about it? Even if we were to get a result against Slavia Prague and put ourselves on the cusp of group stage qualification, it doesn’t get away from the fact that this team is stagnating.

Outfoxed tactically again by Paco Lopez - the second time this has happened - you’d have thought Valverde might’ve learned his lesson.

With the talent we have available in the squad, there’s something amiss if a side can’t be picked to play the Barca way at the very least.