Poor defeat leaves Barca with work to do
Barcelona came to Hamburg with the aim of qualifying for the next round after three wins from their first three Champions League group games.
The visitors were certainly favourites to win, particularly with Shakhtar being forced to play their home games in Germany and having recently sacked their manager. Marino Pusic has only been in charge for 10 days but masterminded a famous win for his new club.
And it was fully deserved too. Pusic vowed his team would “show our teeth” before the match and they certainly did that. Shakhtar were the better team throughout, scored a fine goal, were a little unlucky to see another ruled out and deservedly took all three points.
Shakhtar's winner against #FCB came at the end of a 27-pass move - the longest for a goal in the Champions League this season.— La Pausa (@lapausa_pod) November 7, 2023
That wasn't Barça being passive either. They were trying (and failing) to pressure the ball from pass #1, but just looked un-coordinated at every step. pic.twitter.com/ZULG2dbpTF
It’s a great story for the Ukrainian side whose passionate celebrations at full-time said it all. They are having to play against all kinds of odds right now and deserve real credit for this performance.
Shakhtar beat Barcelona with a line-up of nine Ukrainians, a Georgian and an 18 year old Brazilian. Only four of those Ukrainians started a game for their country during last international break. Spectacular upset. And that’s before you remember they are functioning in a war.— Adam Crafton (@AdamCrafton_) November 7, 2023
The result has also made Group H far from a foregone conclusion. Barcelona are still in a good position to qualify as group winners but have plenty of work to do and certainly can’t afford any more European wobbles.
Xavi’s side have been joined on nine points at the top by Porto but know they face the Portuguese side next at Montjuic. Shakhtar are three points behind and will fancy their chances of progressing too after this result against the champions of Spain.
The only good omen from the game is that the last time Barcelona lost to Shakhtar was in the 2008/09 Champions League campaign...and we all know were the European Cup ended up that season.
Lewandowski hits a new low
Robert Lewandowski is back from injury but looking a shadow of himself at present. The Poland international was back in Germany on Tuesday night but barely had a sniff of goal and drew a blank once again.
Barcelona’s No. 9 has now gone six games without a goal for Xavi’s side – it’s his worst drought for over a decade and is a real worry.
6 - Robert Lewandowski has failed to score in any of his last six games for Barcelona in all competitions, his worst goal drought since a 10-match spell with Borussia Dortmund between December 2010 and February 2011. Strange. pic.twitter.com/EoO5kyskRZ— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 7, 2023
Lewandowski has hardly been helped by his team-mates, with Raphinha and Ferran Torres also toiling against Shakhtar. The pair struggled to support the striker which led to Lewandowski dropping deep to try and find the ball which didn’t work either.
The arrivals of Joao Felix, Pedri, Lamine Yamal and Alejandro Balde in the second half made Barcelona marginally better but the dire stat of one shot on target in the entire 90 minutes says it all.
How does Xavi fix Barcelona?
There’s no doubt that Barcelona are in a rut right now. The Clasico defeat seems to have hit the players hard and this defeat followed on from an undeserved win against Real Sociedad.
Xavi spoke about needing a “reset” after this defeat and called it “one of the worst games” since he took charge just over two years ago. The truth is that Barca haven’t really convinced all season but results had hidden many issues.
There’s no doubt his side have problems. Confidence is low, the team seem completely devoid of ideas and are still allowing far too many sights of goal. The fact that goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is often the team’s best player speaks volumes.
2 - Barcelona have lost two of their last three games in all competitions (W1), having won just once in their previous 15 games (W11 D3 L1). Brake. pic.twitter.com/i4Hdlwhob7— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 7, 2023
Too many Barca players are underperforming with Lewandowski, Raphinha and Ferran Torres never troubling the Shakhar defense throughout the match.
Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo both looked like great signings at the start of the season, but fast forward a few months and both are struggling to show their worth now.
Felix has not scored in his last 10 matches, while you can see why both City and Bayern passed on Cancelo.
So what now? Xavi spoke about having plenty of work to do on the training ground after the match and he will have to work quickly with Alaves up next on Sunday.
Currently the team doesn’t like as good as last season but Xavi does have a host of brilliant youngsters to depend on and an injury room clearing fast. The big question now is - how can he get his team firing again?