Valverde really needs to resign
Ernesto Valverde’s worst moments as Barcelona boss have come in the Champions League, and he hit another low on Tuesday when his team were whistled off the pitch against Slavia Prague.
The fans’ frustrations were understandable after watching a team packed full of talent follow up their dismal showing against Levante with another wretched display.
Slavia Prague are regarded as the weakest team in the group but outplayed the Catalan giants on their own pitch and will be disappointed not to have taken home all three points.
As for Barcelona, well they were a mess, lacking cohesion throughout the team and it was not at all clear what Valverde wanted from his players.
Antoine Griezmann looked completely lost out on the left once again, Arturo Vidal was chaotic, Ousmane Dembele frustrating and even Lionel Messi couldn’t quite conjure up a win out of nowhere.
Barcelona are still likely to qualify for the knockout stages, probably even as group winners, but can anyone in the world see them going much further while Valverde remain in charge?
Even Messi can’t save this Barcelona
Unsurprisingly Messi looked Barcelona’s best bet of a goal all night and came close with a brilliant shot that thundered against the woodwork after a typical run.
He also had another couple of decent efforts saved by the goalkeeper, one after a rather neat pass from substitute Ansu Fati, as Barcelona drew a rare blank at the Camp Nou.
First time in seven years that Barca have failed to score in a Champions League group game at the Camp Nou.— The Spanish Football Podcast (@tsf_podcast) November 5, 2019
Yet Messi can’t keep on doing it all by himself and Barcelona really need their other forwards to step up if they are to go on and achieve anything this season.
Valverde’s decision to keep Griezmann out wide on the left was as baffling as it was frustrating and saw the Frenchman contribute very little. It’s still too early to judge Griezmann but it’s fair to expect a lot more from a player who cost €120 million.
Ousmane Dembele looked very much like a player who hasn’t played much in the last month or so. He created moments of danger but also made some pretty poor decisions too.
Valverde said before the match Dembele needed to earn his place in the team, but who knows if he has done enough to convince his manager to start him against Celta next time out.
Pique and Alba to miss Dortmund?
Next up for Barcelona in the Champions League is a visit from Borussia Dortmund which should be a pretty tasty tie between the top two teams in Group F.
Lucien Favre’s side came from 2-0 down to beat Inter 3-2 on Tuesday and move a point behind Barca, win at the Camp Nou and they will top the group ahead of the final round of fixtures.
Barcelona will be without Gerard Pique for the match after the yellow-card magnet picked up his third booking in four Champions League games this season.
He could have no complaints about the decision either, pulling back Peter Olayinka early on in the game to earn his ninth booking in 14 games this season.
It’s a suspension Barcelona could have done without too. They struggled to a 0-0 draw against Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion and needed goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to thank for the point.
Samuel Umtiti, provided he can stay fit, is likely to come in and partner Clement Lenglet for the visit of Dortmund in three weeks’ time.
Jordi Alba is also at risk of missing the game too. He went off at half-time with a hamstring problem, and the early reports suggest he could be out for up to a month.
Barca’s home form in the competition will make them favourites, but Dortmund will know they have little to fear after this performance.