Barcelona could not take advantage of playing in front of their home crowd and have left everything to play for in Turkey next week thanks to a 0-0 draw against Galatasaray in the first leg of their Europa League Round of 16 tie. Barça played in third gear for most of the night and had a frustrating 90 minutes in front of goal, and the visitors put up a solid fight to earn a very good result at Camp Nou.
The first 45 minutes were played at a very good pace, with both teams showing good intensity in their pressing and moving the ball quickly and not wasting too much time between their passes.
Barça were the better side but most of their good work was done in midfield, with Nico González, Frenkie De Jong and Pedri doing their best to try and find spaces inside a well-organized Turkish defense. The front three was less dangerous, with Memphis Depay the only attacker truly involved in the dangerous moments Barça had in the period.
At the back, the Blaugrana had only one real breakdown which allowed a good chance to Akturkoglu, but De Jong made a very good block on his shot to avoid a bigger problem. There were no real chances for either side, and at halftime the game looked wide open and both teams felt like they had a shot at winning.
Xavi Hernández was not happy with the first half performance and made a triple substitution at halftime, with Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué and Ousmane Dembélé coming on to add some spark to the team. Barça did improve their play in the second half, looking more dangerous up front and creating some good openings.
Within the first 20 minutes of the period, Busquets came close with a header that was well saved by Barça loanee Iñaki Peña, both Adama Traoré and Dembélé saw their efforts from distance travel just over the bar, and Jordi Alba had a beautiful volley off his right foot go agonizingly wide.
The very best chance, however, came on a cross from the right that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tried to finish with a bicycle kick but turned into a pass inside the six-yard box for De Jong, who was alert to it and tried to redirect the ball into the net but saw his effort hit the inside the post and come out instead.
As we reached the final 10 minutes Barça were running out of time to find a winner, while Galatasaray were happy to put all 11 men behind the ball to preserve the goalless draw. Barça continued to put on the pressure in the final minutes but it simply wasn’t their night, and the final whistle came to end the affair all square.
This is a frustrating night because of the result and the performance, which wasn’t up to the standards we’ve seen lately. And having to play their best team to decide everything in the second leg in Turkey next week, just three days before El Clásico, is the worst news to come from tonight. Safe to say this wasn’t a memorable European night at Camp Nou.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo (Piqué 46’), Eric, Alba; Nico (Busquets 46’), F. De Jong, Pedri; Adama (L. De Jong 80’), Ferran (Dembélé 46’), Memphis (Aubameyang 61’)
Galatasaray: Peña; Boey, Nelsson, Marcão, Van Aanholt; Kutlu, Antalyali; Babel (Kilinç 68’), Feghouli (Cicaldau 79’), Akturkoglu (Yilmaz 90’); Mohamed (Gomis 68’)