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Arsène Wenger: Barcelona play like a team in crisis

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Le Professeur” diagnoses Barça and gives his verdict

Arsene Wenger Press Conference Photo by Jun Sato/Getty Images

“They’re top of the league, they’re top of their group, and they play like a team in crisis,” that’s Arsène Wenger’s diagnosis of Barcelona following a 0-0 draw with Slavia Prague in the UEFA Champions League.

“Their game is too slow. There is no dynamic in the last 30 meters, it’s too individual. And very time they lose the ball, it looks like they will concede a goal on counterattack because they cannot deal with pace against the opponent... the team lacks dynamic, lacks energy, lacks confidence,” the former Arsenal manager said.

He also said the team was too reliant on Lionel Messi: “Barcelona is an interesting case because they have a history of fantastic collective play, and on top of that, came Messi to make differences. Today it looks like they play and they wait for Messi to do something, but the basic strengths of the team play is a bit gone. And you think, when will Messi get the ball to do something? And before, the music, the basic music, was the fantastic team play, making it difficult to catch the ball, and then on top of that came Messi. Today it looks to me that they lost charisma.”

Wenger also spoke about the differences in the “distance covered” stats between Barça and Prague, noting that after 80 minutes, Barcelona had covered 97 km while Slavia had covered 109. Wenger noted that that was the equivalent of 84 box-to-box runs.

“Barcelona was beaten tonight really, physically, and then, not enough pace.”

Wenger then went on to make an interesting semantic distinction between Ernesto Valverde being guilty and being responsible.

“At the end it’s always the coach who is guilty, he’s not always responsible. There’s a difference between being guilty and responsible, you know? As we said Valverde does not make the decision on who comes in. He has to do the best with what he has. So what we speak about raises many questions: who has the final word when you buy a player? Secondly, is this really the player that the team needs?”