Although Slavia Prague are the minnows of Barça’s Champions League group, the Catalans were never going to take the Czech side lightly.
After seeing the way in which they held Inter until the last knockings of their game at the San Siro, and only losing to Dortmund via two breakaway goals, being complacent wasn’t an option.
After two minutes of Wednesday night’s game, Lionel Messi’s strike looked like it would herald a goal fest in Prague but the reality was very much different.
Leo #Messi— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 23, 2019
05/06 ✅ 1⚽
06/07 ✅ 1⚽
07/08 ✅ 6⚽
08/09 ✅ 9⚽
09/10 ✅ 8⚽
10/11 ✅ 12⚽
11/12 ✅ 14⚽
12/13 ✅ 8⚽
13/14 ✅ 8⚽
14/15 ✅ 10⚽
15/16 ✅ 6⚽
16/17 ✅ 11⚽
17/18 ✅ 6⚽
18/19 ✅ 12⚽
19/20 ✅ 1⚽
(To be continued...)
As it has been away from the Camp Nou for a while in truth.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the problem lies but there’s clearly now a mental issue as far as some players are concerned.
Maybe the Roma and Liverpool defeats have affected the team more than we ever believed possible.
How else do you explain just how poor this team are when they’re the visiting side?
Let’s be clear.
This was as near to the ‘gala XI’ as Barça are likely to get, and yet they had Marc-Andre ter Stegen to thank on three separated occasions in the first half alone.
Had the German not been in the right place at the right time, then the Blaugranes could’ve been dead and buried before the half time whistle.
As it was, it took just four minutes of the second half for the hosts to rattle their more celebrated opponents, and continue to take the game to them.
There’s little point in looking for scapegoats, however, Luis Suarez, without an away goal in Europe for four years, toiled so badly it will probably be another four before he gets one.
He did well in causing Barca’s second goal just before the hour, but there was little else of note in his play.
Another of the elder statesmen, Sergio Busquets, looked leggy at times, and there comes a point when ‘experience’ counts for little.
0 - Luis Suarez is goalless in his last 19 away UEFA Champions League matches, attempting 59 shots without success since a goal against Roma in September 2015. Challenge. pic.twitter.com/k04QyaESoS— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 23, 2019
Antoine Griezmann falls into that category too, on a night he’d probably rather forget.
Tough decisions will have to be made sooner or later, if Barca do want to consider themselves genuine Champions League contenders.
It might be precisely that lack of bravery from Valverde, when needed, that stops another charge to the final in its tracks.
Something’s got to give because it’s embarrassing that a team of Barcelona’s stature continue to make such a pigs ear of their European away games, whether they’re won or not.