FC Barcelona have reason to be upset with the refereeing in their 1-0 loss to Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League. But they should be equally upset at themselves for lacking ideas in the final third, and for preventing Inter from scoring.
Robert Lewandowski cut an isolated figure, offering relatively little threat, and covered well by Inter’s defense.
Meanwhile, Ousmane Dembélé was too imprecise. He can make brilliant plays that few in the world can emulate, but he can also lose possession in silly ways time after time.
Raphinha’s honeymoon period could be over as well, as the Brazilian once again seemed to disappear from the match.
Right now, Ferran Torres’s poor run of form and Ansu Fati’s fitness are the only things keeping the two wingers in the starting XI.
The defense can’t be overly blamed, but they were hardly brilliant. Hakan Çalhanoğlu took two shots from outside the box in the first half. The first came close, the second was a goal. There were a few other close calls.
Pedri was the team’s standout performer and should have seen his efforts rewarded with a goal. But the score was unfairly called off for handball, and then an even more blatant handball was ignored by the ref and the VAR that would have given Barcelona a penalty.
The refereeing decisions aren’t the first to anger the Catalans this season, but they were perhaps the most egregious.
Now, Xavi has to regroup. He has to keep winning in the league, despite a rash of injuries that has challenged Barcelona’s substantial depth. And in the Champions League, it’s made at least two matches into must-win affairs: against FC Viktoria Plzeň and then against Inter at Camp Nou. Getting a result against Bayern at home would be quite handy, as well.
To do that, Barcelona will need better luck with referees. But more importantly, they will need to become stronger in creating chances.