EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

Decoding Barcelona ’s collapse against Real Madrid

Rumor

Following the final whistle at Spotify Camp Nou on Wednesday night against Real Madrid,  Barcelona found itself in a familiar predicament. They had a 1-0 lead going into the second leg  of the Copa del Rey semi-final. However they failed to capitalise and lost 0-4 on the night.

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Barcelona still haunted by ‘Second Leg’ Nightmares

Given Blaugrana’s recent track record in the second leg of any competition, some may have predicted the outcome already. Back in time, Barcelona’s second-leg performances have never been particularly pleasing, to say the least.

Barcelona were knocked out from the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals by AS Roma in April 2018. Every Barcelona fan’s eardrums are still hurting from Peter Drury’s classic  commentary  during Kostas Manolas’ winning goal. ‘Corner taken quickly,’ said commentator Steve Hunter this time. When Liverpool came back from 3-0 down to win the game 4-3 on  aggregate in the second leg. After all this time, one would think Barcelona would have learned from their mistakes. The squad at the top of LaLiga’s points table is a new look led by a new manager, a club legend.

However, they were defeated by Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Europa League QF second  leg last season. And Manchester United in the knockout playoffs second leg this season. Also, suffered another second-leg defeat last night. It is not accurate to suggest that Barcelona has not improved. After all, they had beaten Real Madrid three times in a row prior to Wednesday’s match. However, they couldn’t replicate the feat when it counted the most. Even though there is a viable improvement, it appears like the ghosts of the past continue to  haunt the current team.

Key players of Barcelona missed the game due to injuries

Barcelona’s elimination from cup tournaments this season has been largely due to injuries. Take, for example, the UEFA Champions League. Barcelona needed a win against Inter Milan on Matchday 4 of the Champions League group stage.  Sadly, the absences of Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde, and Andreas Christensen contributed to a 3-3 draw. Due to injury, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele were unavailable against Manchester United  in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League contest. On Wednesday, while fans watched Madrid humiliate their beloved Barcelona, players like  Dembele, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, and Christensen could only sit back and watch.

Will the game’s outcome have been different if Barcelona had a stronger midfield? Perhaps so. But what has been done is done. Xavi stated after the game, it is time for Barcelona to “focus on the league.”

Poor performance from Raphinha,Busquets and Lewandowski

On the night, Barcelona was overpowered by madrid’s defence. Some may claim that they were the stronger team statistically, with 53% possession, more shots on goal (11) than Madrid (9), and forcing their opponents into more saves (5). But football is a game of goals, and Madrid scored four.

Despite having more possession, Barcelona was unable to dominate the game’s flow. Several players must be held accountable in this context. Raphinha had an awful nightmare to begin with.The Brazil international was unable to outperform  Eduardo Camavinga and was subsequently replaced by Ferran Torres,  who was unable to perform any better. Sergio Busquets, on the other hand, missed numerous passes,  and despite being the best of the bunch in the first period, Franck Kessie was unable to  replicate his performance after the restart. Lewandowski had the least touches(37)of any outfield player to play 90 minutes. This is mostly due to the absence of elite players like Pedri and de Jong,  who bring that sense of control and composure in the middle. Overall, it was a common failure, and no single person can be blamed. Everyone involved must accept responsibility and move on.

Xavi still believes in Team’s quality

“It’s a tough night, we were good in the first half.I’m the number one person responsible for this, we need to react. It’s a complicated night, we competed better than the result says.We were very, very good in the first half. We controlled things. But the 0-2 killed us.”

“It wasn’t our night, we have to focus on what we have left.We competed well, in the first leg and the first half of today. I’m proud of what we did in the first half, but we had errors in transition.They were favourites for the tie, we were playing against the Champions League winners.”

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